The head of the Olympic movement said making people aware that they need to do more to protect the environment is the modern day legacy of the Games.
“The new perception that through the Games people can do more to protect the environment, I think, is the greatest legacy that we can have,” International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge told a packed Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon yesterday.
While applauding the sustainability initiatives of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Games (VANOC) Rogge also acknowledged that there is no escaping the environmental challenges facing Beijing, the host of the 2008 Summer Games.
“I cannot hide the fact that there is today a danger of atmospheric pollution in Beijing, but our Chinese friends are making a tremendous effort to reduce this and this is going to yield good results,” said Rogge who is traveling with a high level of police security while in B.C.
As he spoke some demonstrators marched outside the Trade and Convention Centre where, according to media outlets, about 30 police officers kept watch. There has been a noticeable spike in anti-Olympic vandalism in recent days with the Omega countdown clock, Premier Gordon Campbell's riding office, and several Royal Bank of Canada branches being targeted.
This is just the second time Rogge has visited 2010 Winter Games hosts Vancouver and Whistler since the Games were won in 2003.
“I have no doubt that Vancouver will stage extraordinary and spectacular Olympic and Paralympic Games,” he said.
“And I have no doubt that you will create sustainable legacies that will benefit the residents of B.C, the citizens of Canada, and the millions of people around the world who will be inspired by the sprit of Olympicism that is so evident here.
“With two years to go before the Games you should be proud of your progress.”
Rogge competed in the 1968,1972, and 1976 Olympic in yachting.
He pointed to several “best practices” that VANOC has contributed to hosting the event including:
• The creation of a highly effective sustainable management and reporting system. This management tool ensures accountability and helps keep many legacy initiatives on track.
• The creation of a culture of transparency and openness.
• The creation of a structure of the long term delivery of legacies through the Legacies Now program.
The Vancouver Games are also only the second to participate in the IOC’s Olympic Games Impact Study, which uses 100 indicators of sustainability to measure how the Games affect the host cities and regions.
The study will help Olympic organizers see what works and what doesn’t work so that the information can be passed on to future Games’ hosts.
Rogge also encouraged everyone to get involved with the 2010 Games either by helping to set up Live Sites, where people can gather to watch the action on a big screen TV or by volunteering.
“I can only encourage all the municipalities and communities, not only throughout British Columbia, but all of Canada to organize,” said Rogge.
“It only takes a giant screen, there are hardly any issues of copyright because the rights holders, I am sure, will waive their rights for community initiatives. Then you bring some beer there and a music band and the artists will do the rest.”