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A Vancouverites Guide to the 2010 Winter Olympics

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Story by Rachel Black

The Winter Olympics are coming to our beautiful city. How do you intend to survive the arrival of the world at our doorstep while making the most of this once-in-a-lifetime event? This is a short guide to help you navigate Vancouver and the Olympics from February 12-28, 2010, starting with a brief history of how this event came to be.

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How did it all get started?

As you can imagine the Winter Olympics have not been around for nearly as long as their summer counterpart. There just wasn’t enough snow for winter sports in Greece, but that is ancient history. The modern Olympic Games were founded in 1894 by Pierre Fredi, who wanted to promote international cooperation and understanding through sporting competition. The first modern Games were held in Athens, Greece in 1896. Leading up to the creation of a separate games for winter sports, hockey and figure skating were included as part of the Summer Games.

In 1908, figure skating made its debut as an event at the Summer Olympics in London. It’s interesting to note that hockey and figure skating remain two of the hottest tickets in the Games. The other winter sports had to wait a little longer to claim a place in the limelight: it wasn’t until 1924 that the inaugural winter games were held in Chamonix, France. First called the “International Winter Sports Weeks” (although the week actually lasted eleven days), it wasn’t until later that this event was called the “Winter Olympic Games”. It was such a success, with over two hundred athletes from sixteen nations competing in sixteen events, that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to schedule the second Winter Olympics Games in St. Moritz in 1928.

Like the Summer Games, this sporting event is held every four years. However, the games do not always go on: they were briefly interrupted during World War Two. The 1940 Winter Olympic Games to be held in Japan and the 1944 Games in Italy were cancelled due to the international conflicts happening at the time. The first post-war Games took place in 1948 in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Until 1992, both the Summer and Winter Olympics were held in the same year. These events are now staggered by two years making their organization much easier for the host countries and for spectators. In 2003, the IOC awarded Vancouver the 2010 Winter Olympics. This will be the second time Canada has hosted these Games and some of you may still have fond memories of the 1988 Winter Olympics held in Calgary. The 2010 Winter Olympics will last 17 days, followed by 10 days of Paralympic events. A projected number of 6850 athletes from over 80 countries will participate. There will be 10 000 media representatives present and nearly 3 billion televisions viewers will have their eyes on our beautiful city and some of the world’s most talented athletes.

Getting in on the Games

Getting tickets to the 2010 Winter Olympics may seem a little like searching for the Holy Grail. You put your name in for the lottery, you had no luck during Phase 2 and 3 ticket sales and you do not know anyone with corporate tickets. Don’t despair! Box offices will open on the first day of competition at each venue. Main box offices opened in Vancouver and Whistler in January 2010. If you don’t want to hedge your bets with ticket lotteries and long lines, you should have a look at site like Showtime Tickets and TicketCity. These sites are places where people can buy and sell tickets to most events at the Games. Be warned that tickets to hot events like hockey and figure skating will cost a pretty penny, if you can find them. Be sure to buy tickets from a reputable site to avoid scams. Official sporting events are not the only things going on in Vancouver during the Games. Don’t forget that people are coming from all over the world to support outstanding athletes but they will also be looking to celebrate and get into the spirit of the Games. You will need tickets to take part in the pageantry of the opening and closing ceremonies and these are popular events. However, there are also many tickets available for the victory ceremonies that will take place nearly each evening in both Vancouver and Whistler. After the medals are presented to the top athletes, there will be concerts featuring renowned entertainers. Besides the official ceremonies, there will be many festivities in the streets and squares of Whistler and Vancouver. Some places that are likely to be popular for public celebrations and parties include the Robson Square GE Ice Plaza downtown and David Lam Park in Yaletown. Granville Island is rumoured to be the headquarters for the Canadian Government and Francophone community’s celebrations. The Squamish, Lil’wat, Tseil-Waututh and Musqueam will be hosting celebrations at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza at the Four Host First Nations Pavilion. The English Bay Inukshuk is likely to be another popular gathering place for visitors as they pose for pictures and take in the beauty of the city.

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Making your way through the crowds

Like many Vancouverites you may be worried about getting around during the games. Be prepared and have a plan because there will be many road closures and delays should be expected due to the sheer volume of visitors, participants and media trying to get around the city. Keep in mind that areas of Yaletown, Robson Street and Granville Street will be transformed into pedestrian malls during the Games. If you plan on driving, be aware that many official venues have limited parking. The Vancouver Olympic Committee, VANOC, suggests using public transit and limiting the use of private vehicles. TransLink (Vancouver’s transit system) is planning on beefing up its regular service by putting extra vehicles on the road.TransLink will be serving all major event venues. In case you have guests arriving from out of town, the recently opened Canada Line will facilitate getting to and from the Vancouver International Airport. Besides public transport, there are a number of options for avoiding frustrating traffic. You might consider walking or cycling around town, but this isn’t always the best idea in often-soggy Vancouver winter weather. You should consider planning ahead to book a limousine or hired-car service to take you to Olympic events, dinners and other functions during the Games.

Planning for the Games

You have your tickets and you know how you are going to get to your Olympic events of choice, so what’s missing? Don’t forget that the daily services that you regularly use from dry cleaning to the gym might be overwhelmed or difficult to get to. Perhaps the most important item for the culinary-minded Vancouverite will be advance restaurant reservations: be sure to book early at your favourite restaurants.Vancouver’s hottest dining spots will surely be in top form to show the world that our city is a truly world-class gastronomic destination. Don’t get left out of the Olympic feeding frenzy. Vancouverites are fortunate to be able to host such a special event and to share in this coming together of the world in a celebration of community and sporting excellence. The 2010 Games are sure to be an experience of a lifetime.

Thinking of the future: BMW and the 2012 Olympic Games in London

It is always a good idea to think about the future; BMW’s engineers have been working hard to create environmentally-sensitive vehicles for a sustainable planet now and in the long run. BMW is proud to announce that they will be a tier one partner and the exclusive automotive sponsor for the 2012 Summer Games and Paralympics in London, England. BMW will provide more than 4000 low-carbon vehicles for this event. As a sustainability partner, BMW will help ensure that the 2012 Games are low carbon and in tune with a desire for all around healthy living. Ian Robertson, member of the board of management of BMW AG, responsible for Sales and Marketing said:“We see our partnership as a major opportunity, over the next three years and beyond, to focus attention on our range of the most fuel efficient premium cars – and also to shine a light on the future of individual mobility. This partnership will be an inspiration for our customers, employees, dealers and suppliers.”

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