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Winter Games only cost $6 million, Olympic office says

Final report will be available next week at whistler.ca

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Whistler spent $3.5 million less on the Olympic Games than originally planned, Executive Director for the 2010 Winter Games Jim Godfrey announced on Tuesday.

After months of analyzing revenues and costs, accountants have finalized the figures for the massive sporting event and pegged total spending at $6 million.

The total includes operational costs and is significantly less than the $9.5 million sum Whistler officials planned when they set the budget in 2008, he said.

Godfrey's announcement was made with little fanfare at Tuesday's public council meeting.

"The savings that were generated will be returned to the hotel tax reserve," he said, before thanking the many people involved in putting together Whistler's Olympic Games in a heart-felt speech.

After the meeting, Mayor Ken Melamed called the multi-million surplus "incredible news."

"It cannot be understated how the preplanning played out," said Melamed. "Mr. Godfrey is as penny-pinching as they come. We funded as we felt was needed to put on an extraordinary Games, and we did it well under budget."

Melamed said the reason for the surplus is that over the last few years, Whistler has gone through the most complicated event planning exercise in the history of the resort.

"That contained a tremendous amount of uncertainty," said Melamed. "Through the delivery of the Games, right up until a very short period of time before the Games, we were still in negotiations over agreements with the province."

He said Olympic organizers with the Resort Municipality of Whistler didn't know until the last moment whether some agreements would be in place, and they had to move forward with a robust budget in case they did not materialize.

"We had to make sure the Games went off without a hitch," he said.

For example, only in the past few months did the municipality get confirmation from the province that the government would put $3.4 million towards any extraordinary costs associated with Games-time operations like snow clearing, street maintenance, transportation, and fire and rescue services.

That contribution helped offset many of the municipality's costs, said Melamed.

"This is incredible news," said the Mayor. "No matter how you slice it, the money was well-invested. We had the most extraordinary Games, and we over-delivered on every promise we made. We had enthusiastic staff during the Games, and I want to repeat council's appreciation for the performance of the Resort Municipality of Whistler team."

Whistlerites will be able to look over the numbers next week, when the municipality releases the final report on their website, at www.whistler.ca.

The report, entitled "Living the Dream: the Post-Games report," is the final volume of a three-part series.

The first two reports were released in 2007 and 2008, and outlined Whistler's Olympic targets and proposed finances.

The final document reviews each of the strategic objectives Whistler had going into the Games and identifies "what worked, key facts, some interesting did you knows, and stories," said Godfrey.

65 observations are also included for future Olympic hosts, he said.

The executive director also took time on Tuesday to speak about the massive brand awareness accompanied by the Games.

There were approximately 3.5 million television viewers, which works out to $140 million in ad equivalents, said Godfrey.

Also, in the United Kingdom awareness of Whistler increased from 32 per cent to 45 per cent. And in Germany, that number went from 19 per cent to 45 per cent.

"The challenge now will be to capitalize on that Olympic exposure," said Godfrey.

"The 2010 Olympics and Paralympics have provided some significant opportunities for Whistler. Now, as we look beyond the Games, the real work starts. We now have to capitalize on those opportunities."

Tuesday night was Godfrey's final presentation to council.

 

 

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