Ready or not, here come the Olympics
Exactly one year from tomorrow the eyes of the world will be on Vancouver.
On Feb. 12 next year, the Olympic opening ceremony will be held at BC Place. Time's ticking, and the question is: will we be ready?
Vancouver's Olympic Organizing Committee (VANOC) says the 2010 venues are pretty much ready. Work on the athletes village, the Canada line, Convention centre, and the Sea-to-Sky Highway isn't finished, but it will be to meet the Olympic deadline.
"I've been at a couple of Olympic games where they were literally putting the last nail in the wood the day before and it doesn't give you time to prepare and to train people and your volunteers. So we have a huge advantage from an operational standpoint," says VANOC Executive Vice-President Dave Cobb.
And for Canadian athletes, training and competing at those venues is an enormous advantage.
Meaghan Simister is part of the Canadian National Luge Team. "We spent a lot of time training here and I feel like I'm getting to know this track like the back of my hand," she says.
Still there are challenges. The economic downturn has forced the organizing committee to cut costs. And VANOC is $10 million short of its sponsorship revenue target of $760 million.
"The majority of our revenue is raised, our venues are built. A lot of our planning is done and we have the budget to deliver what we think we need to deliver," says Cobb.
Accommodation remains a big challenge in the Sea-to-Sky corridor. VANOC is now offering free Olympic tickets to residents who open their homes to Games volunteers.
And if the welcome mat doesn't come out, VANOC's Director of Community Relations, Maureen Douglas says, "We definitely are still pursuing what are some of our temporary opportunities, and if push came to shove what are some of our dormitory opportunities. But we've love to give both volunteers and people in the Sea-to-Sky that chance to have a unique games experience."
While VANOC is being praised by many Olympic watchers, it has become a lightning rod for critics of the Games who've seized on the ballooning security budget and athletes' village financial turmoil.
"Unfortunately though, there's things that are beyond our control and arguably nothing to do with the Olympic Games. They're very convenient for people to push problems at or push blame to," says Cobb.
Which is why organizers are steadfastly focused on staging a top notch games for athletes and spectators -- and leaving behind a positive legacy.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Mike Killeen