Vancouver aims for squeaky-clean 2010 Games
By JIM KERNAGHAN -- London Free Press
The oily tentacles of Enron and various other instances of corporate malfeasance don't miss much, not even the Olympic Games.
Jack Poole, chairperson of Vancouver's successful 2010 Winter Olympics Bid Corp., says the U.S. stock boondoggle, not to mention a litany of earlier Olympic scandals, has mandated fail-safe operating procedures. The Games have to be squeaky clean.
"We're in a time when management has been highly criticized for its practices," Poole said at the annual Sports Media Canada Awards yesterday. "We have to be extremely careful."
Vancouver will be the site of the skating events, Whistler home to most of the skiing events at the Games. Vancouver defeated Peyonchang, South Korea, by three votes last summer. The other bidder, Salzberg, Austria, was third in International Olympic Committee voting.
Poole, a wealthy developer, and former Irish Olympian John Furlong were named co-winners of the Sports Executive of the Year Award for their work in securing the Olympics. It was, said chief operating officer Furlong, a result of paying attention to details.
"When you look at the Vancouver bid and how it was evaluated, everything got pretty good grades," the former basketball and handball player said. "We weren't A-plus at everything, but we were strong across the board where others had weaknesses. We took everything as a challenge.
"The Paralympics, for example. The Paralympics are a major priority for Vancouver for lots of reasons. We thought we could advance Paralympic athletics and the awareness. We were serious about that. People said, 'But that's just one vote.' Well, that vote was as vital to us as every other vote."
It was that attention to detail, plus the general emphasis of the bid, that won the day, organizers feel.
"We looked at every theme and asked ourselves, 'How will this affect sport, how will this affect athletes?' " Furlong said. " 'Will it enhance the sport and will it enhance their performance?' There were 18 themes and we were determined that sport, and the athletes, be the star of everything."
In the end, they proved that through site location for each sport, they could serve the needs of the athlete for, presumably, the best performances.
"We presented it in a low-key, Canadian way and I think in the end, (the IOC selection committee) said, 'I think these people will deliver what they say they will.' "
It won't be cheap.
Operating cost of the Vancouver Games has been tabbed at $1.3 billion. NBC Television will kick in $810 million US.
The B.C. and federal governments are each contributing $310 million for facilities and upgrades. With ticket sales, licensing and other revenue sources, organizers are aiming to break even.
"We'll get world championships in all the various winter sports at least once before the Games and some afterward," predicted Poole.
An area in which the Vancouver/Whistler combination stands out over previous Winter Games is the wider potential for visitors. The mild climate presents boating and golf, along with other recreational pursuits.
This is not lost on B.C. Tourism, which will be selling the city around the world as a centre for year-round recreational sports. It is a rare city in that you can look down with binoculars from your skis on Grouse or Cypress Mountain on the city's north side and watch boaters and golfers at play.
The Vancouver Games CEO will be named by Oct. 28.
Honoured along with Poole and Furlong yesterday were sportswriter and author Frank Orr and former broadcaster Ted Reynolds, who received the sports media Canada Achievement Award.
Edmonton Sun columnist Terry Jones won outstanding sportswriter and Blue Jays' broadcasters Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth shared outstanding broadcaster.
Ryerson grad Adam Button of the Hamilton Spectator won the Nike Bursary for young sportswriters and Peter Jones of Reuters Canada won outstanding sports photography.