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Vancouver 2010 Olympic Bid team visits Ontario to drum up money and support

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The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Bid team was in Toronto this week drumming up money and support for the fight to host the Winter Games.

"There are no announcements of funding yet but there was an enthusiastic response from out here," said bid spokesman Sam Corea as he prepared to board a plane back to Vancouver Wednesday.

Corea said the bid is still looking for $3 million to complete the $34 million needed for this portion of the international contest to win the Games in 2010.

Vancouver, Salzburg, Austria and Pyeongchang, South Korea are all vying to host the event.

Corea said bid executive Jack Poole was well received and at a luncheon hosted by the CIBC at their Bay Street offices he got the public support of the premier of Ontario, Ernie Eves.

"I really do regard this as a Canadian enterprise, not a British Columbia or a Vancouver-Whistler enterprise," said Eves.

In July 2001 Toronto lost its bid to host the 2008 Summer Olympics to Beijing.

"We, in Toronto and in Ontario, know a little bit about Olympic bids," he said.

"We know that you can have the best bid, make the best presentation and not necessarily win. We as Canadians are committed to making sure that does not happen again."

Also attending the luncheon was Jon Bitove who led Toronto’s unsuccessful bid for the 2008 Games. He said Vancouver’s bid could win if it is fully financed.

Corea said the Bid Corp. outlined the plan for the Games to date.

"They wanted to know about the winter side of the Games," he said.

"Like about the stadiums, the size of the Games, and costs and that sort of thing. They wanted to differentiate between a winter bid and summer bid.

"Can Vancouver do what Toronto couldn’t do, they wanted to know. And, we had maybe two questions about the road. It wasn’t an overwhelming theme."

Vancouver’s message to the rest of Canada was clear. It can win the Games.

"If you are asking me today I think we can do it," said Corea.

"It is a three city race at this point and we feel we’ve got what it takes. But in the end it’s up to those voting. So we are going to do a lot of good planning to make sure that we have what the International Olympic Committee wants in 2010 because we are going to give them a risk-free, high-return bid."

Meanwhile in Whistler the Bid Champion program is in full swing.

"We have talked to between 75 to 100 business and we haven’t had one say no to the idea," said Debbie Smythe, the bid’s manager of community consultation in Whistler.

The bid group is approaching businesses big and small and asking them to endorse hosting the Games here.

While none agreed to endorse the Games immediately most are considering it, said Smythe.

As part of the package each business is given an information folder for staff and asked to brief employees.

Smythe said getting the right information out about the bid is a high priority.

Businesses, which endorse the Games, can display a large sticker in the window.

The goal is to get "overwhelming support" in the community before the IOC’s evaluation team comes to town in February or March.

Currently the race to the finish line is seen as being between Salzburg and Vancouver.

A week ago Bern officially dropped out of the race after a public referendum resoundingly quashed the Swiss city’s bid to host the Games in 2010.

Some saw it as good news for Vancouver but others pointed out that the IOC’s European supporters now only have one local town to back, Salzburg.

There are 60 members from Europe out of the IOC’s 128 members.

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