All the families of Canada’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes will be staying in Vancouver at Games time.
Families coming to cheer on athletes competing in Whistler will come up by motor coach and just stay for the events before returning to Vancouver.
Steven Keith, Petro-Canada’s director of Olympic and Community partnerships, said the decision was based on the idea that all the families should stay in one place and the company wanted only one base of operations.
Petro-Canada announced last week that it would host a Canadian Athlete Family Program during the 2010 Olympics, which will provide tickets, accommodation, airport ground transfers, and food for two members of every Canadian athlete’s family for up to four days. In all it is expected that 500 Olympic and Paralympic family members will get to enjoy the program.
“We just felt for the size of the program that it just had a lot of charm to keep everybody there and there would be that whole neat opportunity to share their stories and experiences and that type of thing,” said Keith.
“And the realities of managing the program in one location was a little bit more straight forward than trying to split it between two, so in all honesty, we didn’t really investigate seriously what the alternatives were in Whistler.”
All the families will be staying at the Listel Hotel on Robson Street, a small Boutique-style hotel of 129 rooms and suites.
Petro-Canada will work with official 2010 partner Jet Set Sports for all the arrangements and the ticket allotment will come out of those bought by the company from the Vancouver Organizing Committee as part of its national sponsorship deal.
The program is expected to cost Petro-Canada $3 million.
Athlete families have always struggled to get tickets and get to Olympic and Paralympic Games.
This program will give every Canadian athlete a chance to have their greatest fans there to cheer them on.
Short track speed skater Marc-André Monette, from Pointe-aux-Trembles, Quebec, is one of the athletes who will likely benefit from this program. His wish is to see his parents in the stands during his first Olympic Winter Games, in Vancouver in 2010.
“They are my number one fans,” he said.
“Parents support us when we are young and often when the crucial time comes, they are not there to share this with us.”
Keith said Petro-Canada has been supporting athletes for over 20 years and when the company was looking for a meaningful and relevant way to help in 2010 the Family Program seemed an excellent way to go.
“The company has been very focused on what are the things the athletes need to be successful,” said Keith.
“It became apparent to us that it is not infrequent that families are not able to attend the Olympic and Paralympic Games…. so we felt this was a really good opportunity, that was really true to the way we have been able to help Canadian athletes in the past.”