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Editorial

Lessons from Beijing

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But will there be stories about the people of Vancouver and Whistler and their goals? We take pride in where we live and what we’ve done, but we’re less likely to take the opportunity that comes with the Games to show off. A little recognition that we live in a beautiful part of the world and that we’re nice people would seem to satisfy most of us.

Whistler has an official document, released in October 2006, that outlines our 11 strategic objectives for the 2010 Olympics. If you recall that “engaging the community in the 2010 Games experience” was one of the strategic objectives you probably have too much time on your hands.

Others among us may have specific goals for the 2010 Olympics, such as to be watching them on TV in Hawaii while earning thousands of dollars a night renting our places to tourists. That’s a Canadian-type of goal and completely honourable, up there with beating the taxman and drinking beer by the side of a lake. But perhaps we could learn a little bit from the Chinese.

And if not from the Chinese, than maybe others who have hosted the Winter Olympics. As Myles Rademan, Park City’s public affairs director, told Michel Beaudry earlier this year: “ the host town has to become a fully engaged player. Unless you’re in control of your destiny, you can’t look out for your best interests. And you can’t be in control of your destiny if you just sit back and watch.”

Rademan went on to say that Park City became known as “party central” during the 2002 Games because that was a goal it set for itself. “We organized a whole lot of things as a municipality to promote ourselves as the fun place to gather. We had a story. We had a theme. And people were drawn to that.”

Park City’s approach seems particularly relevant in light of the growing fear that many 2010 Olympic spectators may never make it to Whistler Village. Accommodation in Whistler for all the people involved in the Games is still being sorted out, and until it is there will be very little accommodation available to spectators and tourists. The longer that situation drags on the more likely it is that spectators will be bussed up from Vancouver to the Nordic centre or Creekside to watch events, and they’ll get back on busses and return to Vancouver after the events are over.