Sunday, September 28, 2008

2010 Vancouver Olympics - Inside Report

Vancouver and its surrounding areas are hopping with construction and activity as the 2010 Olympics draws closer. Mark down in your calendar - February 12th to 28th, 2010....and get your credit card ready. This weekend, information about purchasing the Olympic Experience Packages (OEP) was published. Single tickets will be sold after the allocation of OEPs - and there will be random selection for all over-subscribed OEPs. Canadians have until November 7th, to submit their request for OEP's......There are 1.6 million tickets available (imagine that) - and the prices range from the low end (curling) to the high end (opening and closing ceremonies).

Here is some simple information about the Olympics. Some events take place in and around Vancouver (figure skating, hockey, speed skating, curling). Cypress Bowl (about 30 minutes from downtown) features snowboarding and freestyle events. At Whistler there are three different venues: downhill skiing, bobsled and luge, and nordic events (biathalon and ski jump).

Vancouverites were mixed in their support for the Olympics and one of the most vocal and well-respected critics of the modern Olympic Games, Chris Shaw has been critical of the interests of real estate developers, politicans and the media as they have promoted the games with blatant unchecked self-interest. His book - Five Ring Circus chronicles the politics and inner workings of the IOC and the Olympic movement. I myself voted against the Olympics - somehow I don't believe that a glorious 3 week event is as important as making sure our poor are sheltered and fed. I'm still not convinced that the social, economic and environmental costs of the games will be worth the huge investment that has been made in Vancouver.

But despite all this - construction for the Olympics is everywhere in Vancouver - the venues, the Olympic Village housing projects, the Canada Line rail linking the downtown to the airport. There is work being done on roads and public spaces. News releases from the Olympic organizers tell us that everything is on schedule. Speed skaters have been able to try the ice at the newly completed skating oval. I did manage to visit the Nordic Venue on a recent trip up to Vancouver - in the isolated and wild Callaghan Valley, two huge ski jumps, nordic tracks, shooting ranges and trails have been constructed.

I have started to hear from friends and family who want to come to visit during the Olympics. I suspect the house will be packed with visitors (so I had better start cleaning now)..... Will you be coming to Vancouver for the Olympics?

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