Sweet digs for Olympic athletes

By BOB MACKIN, QMI AGENCY

VANCOUVER -- The sign says village, but the $1.1 billion home of Winter Olympians in Vancouver really is a seaside resort.

The Vancouver Olympic Village was opened to international media on Tuesday. Reporters wandered the city's newest community on Southeast False Creek while athletes from Germany, Belarus and Netherlands were greeted by ethnic drummers under spring-like conditions.

The most secure of the Olympics' city venues is the only one that requires all passholders to enter through airport-style security at all times. Once inside, it has everything athletes need to be at their best. Save for a swimming pool.

Canadian Olympic Committee medical director Dr. Bob McCormack found a portable solution with an inflatable tub for aching athletes to feel soothed.

"It's spectacular having this amount of light and a view of downtown and False Creek," McCormack said. "We're very lucky. It's the best space we've had in a Games."

LUXURY

Canada's 500 athletes and support staff occupy the two Arthur Erickson-designed landmark buildings at the northwest end of the site. They're bound to find their way to the communal area in the Salt Building, which is known during the Olympics as the Living Room. French singer Isabelle Longnus and guitarist Alpha Yaya Diallo were playing Tuesday afternoon while athletes tested their skills at Nintendo Wii and snooker or just relaxed on beanbag chairs. The Athlete Square also includes the gymnasium, polyclinic and a multifaith centre for worshipping or meditation. A large tent on the east side of the site is the dining hall, which includes a McDonald's.

After the Games are over, the effort to sell the 1,100 suites will resume.

POLL