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International Olympic Evaluation Commission to visit Whistler in March

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The date is set.

From March 2 to March 5 Whistler and Vancouver will launch the campaign of a lifetime to win the hearts and minds of the International Olympic Committee’s evaluation team.

The team will arrive to scrutinize the bid to host the 2010 Winter Olympic Games and if past experiences are anything to go by no stone will be left unturned.

Whistler is already working on a banner program and it’s likely there will be some street entertainment as the team does a walk about of the village and the venues. And it’s hoped the new welcome to Whistler signs will be up at the entrance to the resort.

"We now need to work out the program for both locations," said Corea.

At the top of things to show off will be the number of venues which already exist in both host sites.

Those include BC Place Stadium, General Motors Place, the Pacific Coliseum, the Agrodome and of course the mountain sites at Cypress, Whistler and Blackcomb.

"That is going to be very important," said Corea.

"Along with showing the concept of the two-location Olympics, Vancouver and Whistler, and how they work together and how close the venue sites are in each one."

Since Jacques Rogge took over the IOC the focus has been on promoting a smaller, sustainable Games. Using existing venues fits right into that.

The athlete’s villages in both False Creek in Vancouver and the Callaghan Valley, south of Whistler, will also be promoted.

Corea said housing the Nordic athlete’s so close to their venue site is a huge benefit for the athletes as they will be resting and competing at the same elevation.

"It is really excellent for us to really explain that jewel," he said.

The team will also travel and evaluate the Sea to Sky Highway.

The evaluation commission will send a list of activities they wish to do while in B.C. and the bid program will be arranged around that.

But, said Corea, there is a good chance the commission won’t stick to the program.

"What they do, we understand, is give you a list and we set a program and then the commission will decide to make changes when they are here," said Corea.

"I think they do that to see how you react because you often have to react quickly during an Olympic Games themselves."

While in Toronto in March of 2001 evaluating that city’s bid for the 2008 Summer Games the commission turned down a private dinner invitation with a big wig to hold a working supper.

There were also no takers for tickets to the Lion King and Mamma Mia, two hot selling musicals, for the same reason.

But the commission was touched by the fruit and flowers in swanky rooms at the Park Hyatt hotel in Yorkville, a smudge ceremony, the many children and members of the public who showed support, and high-tech wizardry which enabled them to take a virtual tour of the athlete’s village.

According to media reports of the time the commission regularly worked through dinner, got up early, peppered the Toronto bid people with questions and spent many hours talking to athletes. They wanted details.

They ate at Morton’s of Chicago and The Avenue Rd steakhouse. And they found time to exercise, with a couple of them visiting the Mayfair racquet club.

Corea said there would definitely be cultural events and pageantry when the commission comes to town.

"This is your chance to show what is on paper, live," he said.

"You have to bear in mind that the report the evaluation commission produces is very important because the other hundred (or so) IOC members who will vote may never have seen Whistler or Vancouver.

"They have to base (their vote) on the Bid Book, the evaluation, and the presentation and whatever other information is relevant to them."

The president of the Lillehammer Olympic Organizing Committee will head up the evaluating team. Lillehammer hosted the 1994 Winter Games, which were generally considered a great success.

The evaluation commission is composed of external experts and representatives of the International Olympic Committee, the National Olympic Committees, International Federations and athletes tasked with conducting an on-ground analysis of the four candidate cities.

The short-listed cities are Vancouver, Salzburg (AUT) which will be evaluated March 13-16, and Pyeongchang (KOR) which will be evaluated Feb. 14-17.

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