ATR Newsmaker Breakfast: Keeping the Games Alive

(ATR) The eyes of the world have been on Vancouver for more than a week, and will continue to be through Sunday. What comes after the Olympic flame is extinguished?

The eyes of the world have been on Vancouver for more than a week, and will continue to be through Sunday. What comes after the Olympic flame is extinguished?

Legacy – not only of the Vancouver Games, but of the next Summer and Winter Olympic sites of London and Sochi – was addressed Monday at the Olympians Reunion Center during the Around the Rings Newsmaker Breakfast.

Taking part in the panel discussion, moderated by ATR Editor Ed Hula: Colin Hansen, British Columbia finance minister; Charmaine Crooks, a five-time Olympian in athletics and a member of VANOC; Craig Reedie, IOC Executive Board member John Steele, chief executive of UK Sport; Dmitry Chernyshenko, CEO of Sochi 2014.

If You Build It, They Will Come

Hansen said hosting the Vancouver Games has been “absolutely” worthwhile.

He noted that when the Games were awarded in 2003, British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell said, “this is not a landing pad; this is a launching pad. For Vancouver, for British Columbia, for Canada.”

An example of a physical benefit beyond the Olympics, Hansen said, is the Richmond Speedskating Oval. The $180 million facility was paid for by the sale of city land.

After the Games, the Oval will be transformed into a community recreation center that will include four hockey rinks and six basketball courts.

In order to keep the Whistler Sliding Centre operating, VANOC has ticketed “legacy funds” to pay for an endowment, Hansen said.

Reedie noted that London will have the biggest park built in Europe in more than 150 years.

Sochi will have six ice facilities for the 2014 Games. However, three of the six will be disassembled once the Games end, then moved to regional sites.

Children, Change, Inspiration

London’s legacy program -- International Inspiration -- has a goal of inspiring and enabling youthto participate in sports. Reedie said the aim is to reach 12 million young people in 20 countries.

The United Kingdom will look after its own, too.

“We need to surround (the legacy) with a really good system of sports science, sports medicine and proper funding,” Steele said. “All the supports and staff and systems that are (needed by athletes) to be as good as they can be.”

Crooks said “legacy” has been part of Vancouver’s plan from the start. VANOC targeted youth access to sports as well as for seniors, and paid attention to aboriginal and cultural aspects.

In a one-on-oneinterview with ATR, Hansen said his advice to those mapping out Olympic legacies “is to look 10 years beyond the Games as to what do you want that legacy to look like, both in terms of the physical and the spiritual.”

He said that VANOC “benefited hugely from our discussions with the Sydney Organizing Committee reps. I think they sort of wrote some of the first chapters on how to maximize long-term legacy benefits from the Games. We’re adding a few more chapters to that.”

“The legacy is in our blood,” said Sochi’s Chernyshenko.

“Our solid legacy plan was one of the crucial factors of the success that was proven by the secret ballot of IOC members in Guatemala,” he said. “It’s not only about the venues.”

Accelerating social change is part of the spiritual legacy he envisions.

“Look at the Beijing example, how much it changed Beijing and China since they were awarded the right to host the Games,” Chernyshenko said.

“The same with Russia. The Russians should open the doors for all they world and they should be well prepared for the world to come and see how change (has come to) Russia.”

Written by Mark Maloney

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