The Olympics and Paralympics are steeped with ceremony and tradition, including the forging of relationships with other host cities. The Games themselves are so unique that the only comparison is other Games.
In its bid to win and deliver the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games, organizers have met with representatives from host cities going back decades to seek advice and ideas for presenting the Games. As the symbolic flame is passed from host to host, so is a framework for holding the Games themselves that every host city adds to during its tenure.
The exchange of information is so valuable that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has made it a formal part of the Games process.
Sochi, the Russian resort city on the Black Sea chosen to host the 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, will follow the 2010 Games in Vancouver. This week Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed congratulated Sochi on its successful bid, and said he looked forward to meeting with representatives planning for 2014.
“In the summer following the 2006 Winter Games, a major delegation came from Torino to Whistler for the official IOC transfer of knowledge and my understanding was that this was very helpful for VANOC (the Vancouver Organizing Committee of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games),” said Melamed. “I only attended one of the sessions, but it was pretty in-depth stuff, with staff from Italy meeting with municipal staff from Whistler, from Vancouver, from Richmond, from North Vancouver.
“The official IOC term for it is the Transfer of Knowledge, and every host city is required to produce a document that basically goes over all the lessons that were learned. The intention is to improve with the Games, and learn whatever lessons that a host city has taken away.”
Melamed said he was impressed by Sochi’s bid, but recognized that it will be a big job to produce the 2014 Games.
“It’s similar in concept (to Vancouver-Whistler), with Sochi on the coast and events taking place in the mountains, but what’s really striking is the absence of facilities there,” said Melamed. “We had a good head start with our core infrastructure here, and some of the venues are already built. They definitely have their work cut out for themselves, but they do have seven years to get ready and obviously they feel confident and the IOC felt confident, that the plan was good and there was enough time to get going.”
Whistler has not been contacted by Sochi representatives yet, but expects to start a dialogue soon. Melamed added that the two host towns are already connected through Ecosign Mountain Resort Planners, a Whistler-based resort consultation company that is designing the planned resorts outside of Sochi and helped overlay the Olympic facilities onto the resort design. With Sochi winning the bid, Ecosign will be involved in designing and building the resort and Olympic facilities.