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De-briefing on games reminds 2010 organizers that all candidates must be take seriously


All eight countries bidding for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games have to be taken seriously.

"That was the most sobering lesson to learn," said John Furlong, president and chief operating officer for the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation.

He has just returned from Turin, Italy where a four-day de-briefing on the Salt Lake Winter Olympics Games was held.

"When you look at the plans (of the other candidates)… and you listen to their story, you realize that most of these countries have a pretty good tale to tell," said Furlong.

"There are eight cities and every one of them has every right to be there, and they are all going to tell their story as well as it needs to be told, and we need to pay attention to all eight and not just a few.’

The other cities bidding for the 2010 Winter games are: Andorra La Vella, Andorra, Bern, Switzerland, Harbin, China, Jaca, Spain, Pyeongchang, Korea, Salzburg, Austria, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Vancouver.

The host for the games will be chosen by the IOC in July 2003.

Twenty-five meetings were scheduled over the course of the information exchange on issues such as transportation, sustainability, and the athlete’s village.

Security was also discussed.

Said managing director of the Turino bid, Paolo Rota: "It is worth carefully assessing the differences between our situations."

"Torino and Salt Lake City are extremely different cities, in terms of the environment, rules, and cultures.

"We cannot always take the same approach, even though the aims are the same.

"We will have to adapt the lessons learned over the last few days to our organizational culture and our rules."

While Salt Lake’s games were generally viewed as a huge success, said Furlong, there was still room for improvement.

Athletes and others, for example, faced five to ten hour waits to get out of Salt Lake’s airport at the end of the games.

"There were some very serious comments by everyone about how badly things at the airport worked when everyone was leaving," said Furlong.

"We learnt for sure that this is a serious business and the Olympics are going to be awarded to a city that really has its act together.

"The expectation of quality, boy, it has sure jumped."

The meeting was the second formal "transfer of knowledge" session set up by the International Olympic Committee to help organizers of future Olympics learn from their predecessors.

"Over the past year or so the IOC has started a transfer of knowledge program," said Furlong.

"It actually started right after Sydney. The purpose of it is to put together a best practices blueprint for every city to be able to copy so they have used Sydney and Salt Lake as the templates and they have said using those templates we will continue to upgrade information and systems."

Furlong said the idea behind the meetings is to assist cities hoping to host an Olympic Games so they don’t always have to start from scratch.

"That way they don’t have to re-invent the wheel every time," he said.

"In addition to that it will really create a consistency so that the IOC will have more confidence in how organizing committees are struck, how efficient they are, and they will be less costly."

But listening to the Salt Lake Organizing Committee critique its Games reminded Furlong of the enormity of hosting such a hallmark event.

"It really does hammer home the awesomeness of the task," he said.

"The detail provided was rather extraordinary and really gave everybody the inside look of what was really going on.

"Essentially what we were being handed was the up-to-the-minute best practices information on all these issues. It was very useful."

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