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The sooner the better, IOC says of preparing for Games



Olympic officials share Games knowledge with 2010 team

Whistler and Vancouver got a unique glimpse into the inner workings of previous Olympic Games last weekend as the International Olympic Committee hosted a transfer of knowledge seminar.

The Vancouver based seminars drew on detailed information collected by the organizers of both the Sydney 2000 Summer Games and the Salt Lake 2002 Winter Games.

"Now we have two sets of knowledge, summer and winter, right at the get-go so that we don’t have to start from square one," said Whistler Mayor Hugh O’Reilly who spent last Saturday morning guiding IOC officials around Whistler.

"We can look at this information, not necessarily to see if it is exactly how we will do it, but to give us an idea and a paper trail of the process for what worked and what didn’t, and draw from that the very best practices.

"I don’t know that we can imagine how positive this is. It is a gift, it is just unbelievable."

O’Reilly said IOC officials reiterated that the Vancouver-Whistler bid was in a good position because of the work done to date.

But the 2010 Organizing Committee was also urged to get a strong team, including a CEO, in place as soon as possible.

"First of all, put together a great team of people – very capable experts and managers and leaders who can assemble a great supporting cast to put together the Games," Fraser Bullock, chief executive officer of the 2002 Salt Lake Games is reported as saying by the Province newspaper.

He recommended that Vancouver and Whistler draw on the material available from other Games wherever possible.

The 2010 OCOG has formed a committee to search for a CEO.

Jack Poole, chairman of the 2010 board of directors, has said the most important thing is finding the right person, not rushing into the decision.

It is hoped a CEO will be named early in the new year.

While in Whistler Rene Fasel, chairman of the IOC co-ordination committee for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games, toured both Whistler and Blackcomb venue sites and did a walk about through the village.

He was accompanied by resort officials, other IOC members, and senior staff with Whistler Blackcomb.

"It is good," said Fasel as he inspected the sites.

"We are looking forward to an excellent event."

But he also encouraged those involved in venue development not to waste any time.

"The sooner you start the better," said Fasel.

Doug Forseth, senior vice president of operations for Whistler-Blackcomb, told the delegation that the shovels were expected to be turning soil on the new Sliding Centre in 2005, with an expectation of hosting the first bobsled, luge and skeleton events that same winter and into the spring of 2006.

Most of the runs on Whistler are already in great shape to host alpine ski events, said Forseth, with just minor run widening and the addition of test runs to be completed for the practice events leading up to the Olympics and the Games themselves, which will be held Feb. 12-28, 2010.

"We want (Fasel) to have a sense of confidence that he has the right location and the right people to do the job that is going to be needed," said Forseth.

"He has already expressed confidence in what he has seen here and he was here three months ago and had a good look then too."

For O’Reilly it was another opportunity to explain the pedestrian nature of the village, the importance of sustainability to the plans, the easy access to venues, the never-ending upgrading of the resort and excitement of the community.

"(The IOC members) are very excited and they absolutely adore Whistler and think it is so fantastic," said O’Reilly.

And that may cause its own problems. O’Reilly said 2010 officials and IOC officials had chatted about how to make sure that the world comes to see both Whistler and Vancouver and not just the mountain resort.

"They think Whistler is a huge draw and they see that very positively," said O'Reilly.

"But we want to make sure that it comes across as a single Games and the world perceives us both as one location."

Fasel also said he had confidence that any threat of a landslide above the resort will be taken care of.

"I think the people working here, they know the mountains, they know the place, they are responsible, and we have just to trust them that they know what (they are) doing," he said.

But he urged those responsible to investigate the issue early.

"There is always a question of time," said Fasel.

"We have to face the situation quite early so that we can avoid the problems about sliding, about nature. Nature is always a risk management (issue) in the Winter Olympic Games."

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