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Whistler poised for shortlist decision on 2010 Winter Olympic Games

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Vancouver and Whistler will learn next Wednesday if they are short-listed to host the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

There are currently eight cities vying to host the 2010 Games: Vancouver, Bern, Switzerland, Salzburg, Austria, Andorra la Vella, Andorra, Jaca, Spain, Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Harbin, China, and Pyeongchang, South Korea.

But it’s likely only four cities will be chosen.

Most are putting their money on Vancouver, Bern, Salzburg and Pyeongchang as the final candidates to be chosen by the International Olympic Committee Aug 28.

The IOC will let the cities know by fax around 4:30 a.m. Vancouver time who the lucky ones will be.

"We are very confident that we will be short listed," said Maureen Douglas of the 2010 bid’s Whistler office.

Whistler is planning a celebration on Aug. 29. Starting at 7:30 p.m. on the deck of the Whistler 2010 Information Centre, opposite the Brew House pub.

The evening will include entertainment from local talents Gordo and Brian, the Leanne Lamour Trio, and street entertainer Sand Northrup, amongst others.

The fun continues through to 9 p.m. when fireworks (weather permitting) will mark the evening's finale, celebrating the 2010 theme "Our Time to Shine."

Whether or not Vancouver/Whistler makes the shortlist the celebration will salute the hard work of the 2010 volunteers, community partners and staff who have contributed throughout the process.

Douglas believes the plans outlined so far by the 2010 Bid Corp display a strong bid focusing on quality, sustainability, and excellent venues.

But even if Whistler isn’t short listed its likely the resort will get some legacies.

"We have a huge opportunity to pass on the venue plans which have explored accessibility as it has never been looked at before," she said.

There is also the Legacies Now program, which is already benefiting budding sport stars around the province.

The four possible candidates each have some strong points going for them.

Vancouver and Whistler are recognized as safe, they have strong technical bids, and the televised events will be perfectly timed for Europe. It is also recognized that holding the Games in North America will increase viewership, which will increase advertising revenue and therefore make more money.

Salzburg has great venues and history on its side. It is also recognized all over the world as a centre for skiing competition.

Bern is also a tough challenger. It too has great venues and Switzerland hasn’t hosted a Winter Games since 1948.

But there is a growing anti-Olympic movement there. This fall the canton of Bern will hold a referendum on whether to host the Games and there is an active campaign to fight the plan.

The canton is also only three hours from Turin, host to the 2006 Winter Games.

Pyeongchang also has a strong technical bid, apart from the downhill skiing venue. It has also just hosted a hugely successful World Cup of Soccer. On the downside for South Korea is Beijing’s hosting of the Games in 2008.

No one is really sure how cities are chosen as either candidates or as the host city. There are as many reasons as there are IOC judges.

Some believe the ability to host the best sporting event is paramount, while others contend the Olympics should aspire to promote peace and understanding and bring money to poor nations which otherwise wouldn’t see First World investment.

Then there is the continuing debate about the rotation of Games between continents.

Many have argued that the Games should never be held back to back on the same continent.

But the history of the Olympics is filled with inconsistencies. Turin, Italy will host the 2006 Winter Games just two years after Athens hosts the Summer games.

And closer to home Calgary hosted the Winter Games four years after the Olympics were held in Los Angeles.

The IOC will make its final decision on who will host the 2010 Winter Games July 3 in Prague .

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