One of the big selling points behind hosting an Olympics is the sporting legacies that the Games leave behind.
There are the physical legacies, such as arenas, sports centres and affordable housing for athletes.
There are financial legacies in the form of lasting corporate and public grants to athletes and athletics.
And then there are the more intangible spiritual legacies, monuments and memories inspiring the next generation of athletes to reach for the podium.
Not content simply to bid for the Olympics and wait for the legacies to create themselves, the Vancouver-Whistler 2010 Bid Corporation has already launched the $5 million LegaciesNow program in the belief that, win or lose, the act of bidding itself should leave the provincial sports system stronger.
Another part of the LegaciesNow mandate is to prepare young Canadians for the 2010 Winter Games and beyond by providing "world class programs and services, so that they may train with the best, compete with the best, and simply become the best."
According to Charles Parkinson, director of sport for the bid corporation, the LegaciesNow program would have gone ahead whether Toronto won the bid or not. Now that Toronto is out of the picture and Canadian Olympic officials are focused on the Vancouver-Whistler bid, the longevity of LegaciesNow is more assured.
"Basically, Im looking at two things now," says Parkinson. "First of all, making sure that what the bid does and what the sports are doing in B.C. are linked up and working together, and thats why were running the LegaciesNow programs were running to build a strong relationship between the athletic system and the bid.
"The second thing is to live up to the promises of the domestic bid, which are the program were unfolding. Its more exciting and more interesting now that we are the official bid, but as far as LegaciesNow goes, we are just moving forward in the best way possible.
"Hopefully were going through to the end of the bid, and well see what happens with the (LegaciesNow) program after that."
LegaciesNow has several components, including:
The Tourism British Columbia WordHost Program
This program provides funding to eligible organizations that are interested in bidding for, and winning the right to host international events, such as sport conferences and competitions. The goal is to raise the profile of B.C. in the sports world in the years leading up to the 2010 decision and Winter Games.
"World Host has been up and running for over a year now, and weve supported quite a few events now," says Parkinson.
This interactive software program helps to match children with different sports based on their strengths and abilities. The program also follows up at the community level by giving kids a chance to try those sports for themselves and to progress through a club or recreation system if theres an affinity.
While the original plan was to buy an existing software program from Australia, the bid corporation is also looking into the possibility of designing the software themselves. "We dont know for sure if were going to get the software or start from scratch," says Parkinson. "Part of the reason is that software has come a long way since the program was first developed, and we want to use a Web platform. Maybe we can do something thats more contemporary."
The TELUS International Sport Centre, Whistler
A TELUS International Sport Centre will be created to assist in the development of international and high performance athletes in alpine and nordic events, as well as a variety of other sports. LegaciesNow will provide funding to improve access to services for national and selected provincial level athletes, to develop sport science and medicine programs tailored to winter sport athletes, and to develop an infrastructure of clubs and expertise in all winter sports.
"A board has been struck and Tom Eddie is the chair, and basically all the programs are underway and on track," says Parkinson.
The National Sports Centre, Greater Vancouver
One of seven national sports centres in Canada, the Vancouver facility will provide high-performance athletes with world-class services, coaching, and development. LegaciesNow will help to fund athlete programs and the centre.
"Programs have been underway for a year now, and athletes are benefiting," says Parkinson. "Well be doing an annual report pretty soon to show what the centres have accomplished."
Regional Athlete Development, PacificSport
The regional sports centre program assists the development of prospective high performance athletes in their own communities across the province. It also provides employment opportunities for coaches. Services, offered free to high-performance athletes could include free passes to local fitness facilities, nutrition counselling, and enhanced access to sport science and medicine programs. LegaciesNow also helps to fund the PacificSport Web site and the Olympic Academy leadership program.