The International Olympic Committee said it was pleased with the alpine World Cup and Canadian Championships recently held in Whistler.
“I can see the state of readiness,” said IOC president Jacques Rogge at a press conference as he wrapped up only his second visit to Vancouver since the city won the right to host the 2010 Games in July 2003.
“They were very well conducted… and I’m also very pleased to see that there is a great legacy already in place now even two years before the Games have begun.”
Rogge’s visit coincided with a visit by the IOC’s coordination commission which was checking up on the organizing committee’s (VANOC) progress in several key areas including security, sport, marketing, media services, and services to the National Olympic Committees.
According to VANOC press releases neither Rogge nor the commission raised any flags during the visit. Previously they have questioned whether there will be enough accommodation in Whistler and the state of the Sea to Sky Highway.
VANOC CEO John Furlong said that the organization is currently working on the organizational plans for transportation up and down the highway.
“The work that we are preoccupied with now is actually planning how to move people,” said Furlong.
“Inventory, the amount of buses and… trying better to understand and running that against a schedule. It’s a very complex matrix that we’re working with to try to make sure that it’s highly efficient.”
Rogge visited the Richmond speed skating oval, the UBC Winter Sports Centre and the Vancouver Olympic Village. He did not visit Whistler as originally planned.
Talks also took place between Rogge and several top officials including B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell, Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan and Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed.
The IOC met with representatives of the Four Host Nations as well. Chiefs from the Squamish, Lil’Wat, Musqueam and the Tsleil-Waututh Nations bestowed traditional names on Olympic leaders in recognition of the work they have done in bringing the 2010 Games to the region.
Rogge is a raven, VANOC chairman Jack Poole is a Pool-Warrior, Furlong is a beaver, and Rene Fasel, head of the IOC’s commission, was named Winter.
It is also expected that this week will see an announcement of a deal between First Nations and VANOC for the sale of authentic aboriginal art to be sold under the Olympic brand.
It is likely to be very lucrative.
During the IOC press conference at the end of the visit Rogge also responded to queries about the quest of female ski jumpers to compete in the 2010 Games.
He firmly denied that there was any discrimination involved in the decision not to include women’s ski jumping.
“There is no discrimination whatsoever,” said Rogge.
“The decision of the International Olympic Committee not to include women’s ski jumping was taken on technical grounds not on gender issues.
“In any other sport you are speaking about hundreds of thousands, if not tens of millions of athletes, at a very high level, competing for one single medal.
“We do not want the medal to be diluted and watered down. That is the bottom line.”