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Whistler gets ready for IOC evaluation team

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The street sweepers are out, municipal workers are combing the highway edges for garbage and the snow guns are going full blast on the mountains.

Is there royalty coming to town?

Indeed there is. A member of the royal family of the Netherlands will visit next week

But it is really the group HRH Willem Alexander, Prince of Orange, is with which is causing all the excitement.

He is a member of the International Olympic Committee’s evaluation team which will study the venues and plans surrounding Vancouver and Whistler’s bid to host the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

"We are really excited because it is a focal point," said Maureen Douglas, director of community relations, Whistler, for the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation.

"It is one of the biggest milestones of the whole process."

The 20-member IOC team, which includes advance support staff, began arriving in Vancouver Feb. 27.

Sunday will be the team’s first real day of work, with classroom-like sessions taking place during the day to go over the details of some of the18 themes outlined in the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation’s bid book.

And, unofficially the team is expected in Whistler on Monday.

The team will stay until March 5, spending at least one day in Whistler.

They will most likely travel to the resort by bus, the same way the majority of spectators and visitors are expected to arrive should the Games come to Whistler and Vancouver.

The IOC will choose the host city this July. Vancouver is competing against Salzburg, Austria and Pyeongchang, Korea.

Whistler’s Mayor Hugh O’Reilly has spent the days leading up to the visit being briefed and guided through the process along with a host of other bid corp. personnel.

"It is becoming very obvious that it is not as much marketing as it is technical," said O’Reilly, who will be making presentations to the evaluation team and will be on stand-by to answer any questions they might have about the resort and its venues.

"They are not going to be sold that we are more beautiful than anyone else. "They all come from beautiful counties.

"They want details and issues and they want good people with good answers. They want to make sure that they understand what you said in your bid book, and that if they give it approval, they are confident that they did their due diligence in asking all the right questions because that is their job."

Having said that O’Reilly hopes the team will have a chance to experience the magic of the village and its surrounding countryside.

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