By: Jennifer Cook Issue: Sports Section: Collaborator Profile
Home to Many Olympic “Firsts”
Aerial view of the University of British Columbia Thunderbird Arena © Vanoc
If practice makes perfect, Canada will surely earn a medal this year in the category of Olympic Host Country. Canada held the 1976 Summer Games in Montréal, the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary, and now in 2010, Canada welcomes the world to Vancouver and Whistler for the XXI Olympic Winter Games, from February 12 – 28, and the X Paralympic Winter Games, from March 12 – 21.
These world-class sporting events—hosted back-to-back by the same country for the first time—promise to be an exciting and inspiring celebration of sport, culture, sustainability and collaboration. They will also provide a chance to showcase Canada as a globally competitive and innovative country with diverse international business and investment opportunities. For example, Canadian environmental technologies have and will continue to play a key role in making the 2010 Winter Games the most sustainable Games to date—one of many Olympic “firsts” for Canada.
Of course all of this didn’t happen overnight. Getting to 2010 has been a huge undertaking. In fact, the Olympic and Paralympics Winter Games are by any estimation, one of the largest projects a country can ever expect to manage in peacetime.
More than 80 nations are expected to participate in the 17 days of the Olympic Winter Games in February, and more than 40 nations will take part in the 10 days of the Paralympics Winter Games in March.
With these events come an estimated 5,500 Olympic and 1,350 Paralympics athletes and officials, as well as 25,000 volunteers.
In addition 15 venues, stretching over a 120-kilometer zone, will house competitions, medal presentations, athletes and media. And, approximately 10,000 media representatives and 80 host broadcasters will report the Games to an estimated worldwide audience of three billion.
Disciplines represented at the Games include: Biathlon; Bobsledding, Luge and Skeleton; Curling and Wheelchair Curling; Ice Hockey and Ice Sledge Hockey; Figure Skating (single skating, pair skating and ice dancing); Long and Short Track Speed Skating; Nordic Skiing (cross-country skiing, ski jumping and Nordic combined); Alpine and Freestyle Skiing; and Snowboarding.
Clearly, planning both Games is a complex and immense undertaking. That’s why the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) and the Government of Canada, along with other government and private partners, are focused on a single goal—delivering a secure, world-class event that will be remembered for generations to come.
In a world faced with enormous challenges—whether it’s the conflict in Afghanistan, the tragedy in Haiti or the world economic problems—the Olympics are more important than ever as a step towards unifying humankind.
As the Olympic charter says, “Olympianism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.” It is to “place sport at the service of the harmonious development of man, with a view of promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.”
These are timeless and universal principles. And the organizations and individuals, who came together to pull off what’s known as “the greatest show on earth,” can take great pride in their role of furthering those principles. Now visitors and viewers from around the world will have the opportunity to see first-hand what makes Canada a living embodiment of the Olympic ideal.
The Government of Canada and VANOC are committed to a “unique” Games experience—an experience that will make Vancouver-Whistler the home of a number of Olympic “firsts” in sport, sustainability, culture, business and collaboration.
A total of $580 million, equally shared by the Government of Canada and the Government of British Colombia, funded all sporting venues, including seven state-of-the-art new venues and upgrades to existing venues that were designed with accessibility and sustainability in mind.
All venue construction and upgrades were completed by the end of 2008, a full two years before the 2010 Winter Games.
That means, for the first time in Olympic history, the competition venues were completed before the previous Games in Beijing were finished, allowing Canadian athletes two full years to gain home-field advantage, which Canadians hope will ensure another first for Canada—a gold medal on Canadian soil.
Incorporating principles of environmental, social and economic sustainability throughout the 2010 Winter Games has been an important initiative for Canada. Since 1994, environmental protection has been one of the three pillars of the Olympic movement, along with sport and culture. That’s why Canada set long-term environmental management goals in construction and operation plans to create the first “green” Olympics.
The 2010 Olympic venues offer concrete proof of this initiative. Principles of environmental sustainability were applied when building new facilities to maximize energy and water efficiency, while reducing waste and pollution. Better indoor air quality and durability are added bonuses.
Existing facilities were upgraded to highlight energy conservation and efficiency and to demonstrate alternative heating and cooling technologies. Many of the venues employ heat recapture, which recycles waste heat and uses it to heat other facilities. For example, the Hillcrest Curling Arena captures waste heat from ice sheets and uses it to heat the neighboring community pool. In some cases, recycled materials were used in the construction and refurbishment of facilities.
In addition, venue sites were carefully selected and assessed to minimize their impact on environmentally sensitive areas. The cross-country ski trails at the Nordic competition venue, for instance, were designed with an eye to minimizing the number of trees to be cut down. The trees that were cut at the venue were mulched, fermented and mixed with seeds of indigenous plants from the area. The mixture was later sprayed on soils throughout the venue so that natural vegetation could re-grow in the area. That’s just one example. There are many more.
Sponsors, suppliers, contractors and other partners were also encouraged to follow sustainable procurement practices that comply with ethical sourcing guidelines.
Further evidence can be seen in the public transit systems, which were designed to reduce traffic congestion, minimize local air pollution and limit greenhouse gas emissions. Vancouver and Whistler city streets have also become showrooms for the latest in low-emission technologies and use of alternative fuels, hybrid and active fuel management vehicles.
In other words, Canada can and will set an example of how to plan for and run a successful and sustainable Winter Games.
Collaboration and Partnership
By investing in green building practices up front, the 2010 Winter Games venues will provide a return of environmental and community benefits over their lifetimes.
In 2002, the Government of Canada initiated and signed a comprehensive Multi-Party Agreement for planning and staging the 2010 Winter Games with key partners including the Government of British Columbia, the City of Vancouver, the Resort Municipality of Whistler, the Canadian Olympic Committee and the Canadian Paralympic Committee. The agreement outlined commitments and expectations for all parties such as financial contributions, legal responsibilities and sport legacies, which marked the first time this type of formal agreement had been adopted prior to the Games being awarded. Later it was lauded by the International Olympic Committee and is now considered a “best practice” and model for future Games.
The following year, the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) was established to support and promote the development of sport in Canada by planning, organizing, financing and staging the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The Government of Canada then took on the role of coordinating over 30 federal agencies providing support and programming for the Games. It also invested more than $622 million, which covered infrastructure, legacy costs and essential services, such as security, immigration and border services, to achieve a successful and peaceful holding of the Games.
The Government of Canada also began working closely with the Aboriginal peoples of Canada including the First Nations, the Inuit and Métis. In fact, Vancouver 2010 is the first Games to recognize Aboriginal people as equal partners in staging the Games. The purpose of the partnership was to work with these groups to identify talented athletes, promote youth participation in sport, and to develop coaches and leaders for Aboriginal peoples of Canada. Canada is also working to encourage Aboriginal people across the country to participate in as many areas of the 2010 Winter Games as possible, be it as athletes, volunteers, employees, entrepreneurs, artists and performers, spectators or cultural ambassadors.
For example, beginning with the bid process, the Four Host First Nations—Musqueam Nation, Lil’wat Nation, Squamish Nation and Tsleil-Waututh Nations—have played an important role throughout the planning of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games, which are taking place on their shared territories. This partnership has and will continue to provide Canada’s First Nations with an excellent opportunity to showcase their unique and vibrant cultures, as well as opportunities to partner with Aboriginal businesses that have much to offer globally.
In November 2005, VANOC and the Four Host First Nations signed a protocol, marking the first time in Olympic history that Aboriginal peoples have been formal partners with an Olympic Organizing Committee. Together, they are working to showcase Aboriginal traditions, history and culture, and create lasting social, economic and cultural opportunities and benefits.
Canada’s International Business Dimension
While competition may be the name of the game in the arena, Canada’s competitive spirit and pursuit of excellence extends beyond sport and into the field of global business. With 90 percent brand recognition, the Olympic Games provide an unmatched platform for international cooperation, especially from a commercial perspective.
Thousands of Canadian business partners, sponsors and suppliers have contributed to making these Games possible. Another reason why the Government of Canada invested in the Games was to showcase the country’s collective efforts hosting the Games, while offering business leaders from around the world a chance to view Canada as a modern, technologically savvy country worth investing in.
As an example, the Canadian business environment offers optimal conditions for global business to thrive. These conditions include a diversified economy, financial stability, highly educated workforce and advanced industries. Even during the recent global economic crisis, Canada’s prudent fiscal policies and financial oversight have kept the economy strong and stable through challenging times.
According to the Canadian Office of the Chief Economist, Canada’s economic outlook remains strong. In fact, Canada was the last G7 economy to enter recession and is projected to maintain this strong position as the economy continues to recover and has experienced the smallest peak-to-trough decline among the G7 members to date.
So make no mistake—the Games have and will continue to create international business and investment opportunities. Aside from the 2010 Olympic and Paralympics Winter Games, Canada is home to many business advantages including:
• Preferred access to the North American market—which holds over 435.8 million consumers with a combined GDP of US $15.3 trillion—through the North American Free Trade Agreement.
• The lowest overall tax rate on new business investment among major industrial economies.
• Competitive R&D tax incentives for innovative businesses.
Perhaps that is why some of the most recognizable names in global business—Microsoft and Nokia, Honda, Kellogg and Shell—are advancing their global strategies in Canada.
By hosting the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Canada hopes to give the world a view of Canada as a land of diverse peoples, culture, world-renowned geography and natural beauty… as an international partner of choice for innovation, commerce and investment… as a nation that embraces multiple cultures, respects diversity and champions sustainable development… and as a country that embraces this opportunity to strengthen the Olympic Movement and champion its goals of building a better and more peaceful world.
For the latest information on the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games, visit www.vancouver2010.com. For more information on the Government of Canada’s participation in the Games, visit www.canada2010.gc.ca. And for more information on investing in Canadian business, visit www.investincanada.gc.ca.
The Consulate General of Canada in Denver is part of a network of Canadian Government representation throughout the United States, including the Embassy in Washington D.C., 13 Consulates General and seven Consulate offices. The mission of the Consulate in Denver is to build stronger bilateral ties within the four-state Rocky Mountain region of Colorado, Montana, Utah and Wyoming. For more information, visit the website at www.denver.gc.ca. All press inquiries should be directed to Jennifer Cook at (303) 626-0672 (direct), (303) 589-8782 (mobile) or firstname.lastname@example.org.