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Olympic Open House

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The impact of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games on Whistler would not be "that huge" weighed up against the summer games in Sydney or the winter games in Salt Lake City.

That was the message from the Vancouver-Whistler 2010 bid corporation at an open house held June 27 and 28 at the Whistler Conference Centre.

Approximately 130 people in total attended six half-hour presentations held over the two-day period.

The bid corporation’s Peter Jones said the goal was to try and define the "actual scope" of the two-week event for Whistlerites.

Other key issues discussed included transportation and process.

"We had some good questions and a lot of good dialogue," said Jones.

"One of the core parts of the presentation was trying to explain the scope of what is being proposed for Whistler in terms of that two-week period in February 2010 and we had some numbers and comparisons."

Jones said a winter Olympics is about one-third the size of a summer Olympics in terms of the number of athletes, coaches, officials, spectators "and everything else that goes with it."

He noted in the Vancouver-Whistler case, the "load" would be split 60/40 respectively.

"The load, scope or the volume is actually not that huge," he said. "For example, the number of athletes and officials for Whistler would be less than 2,000. We don’t have a fix on spectators yet. It depends where you are in the world," said Jones.

"It would, for example, be unfair to compare Nagano and Lillehammer with Salt Lake City in terms of spectators. Salt Lake will be bigger just because of where it is located in the world and we think that ours will draw quite large numbers of people."

Jones noted, however, tickets would be needed for each event, which will help with planning. "You don’t get in without a ticket so you don’t come without a ticket so you know exactly how many people to plan for," he said.

"It is also driven by the size of the venues. The cross-country skiing finish line stadium, depending on the design, will contain a set number of seats and that is how many people will come. There will be no standing room. It is the same with speed skating and so on so it is very easy to predict in terms of transportation," he noted. "People were thinking that this was going to be an overwhelming experience, and it is not."

Jones said it was important to note transportation plans will be for the two weeks only. "It is not about providing a transportation plan for the future of the Lower Mainland." He said however, the bid could be a catalyst for long range traffic solutions. "We can help move things forward in a time frame that will have an impact on a broader basis than just what we need to run a successful Olympics."

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