Sunday, January 31, 2010

As others see it

The Guardian, Vancouver's Olympics are heading for disaster
This titanic act of fiscal malfeasance includes a security force that was originally budgeted at $175m, but has since inflated to $900m. With more than 15,000 members, it's the largest military presence seen in western Canada since the end of the second world war, an appropriate measure only if one imagines al-Qaida are set to descend from the slopes on C2-strapped snowboards. With a police officer on every corner and military helicopters buzzing overhead, Vancouver looks more like post-war Berlin than an Olympic wonderland. Whole sections of the city are off-limits, scores of roads have been shut down, small businesses have been told to close shop and citizens have been instructed to either leave the city or stay indoors to make way for the projected influx of 300,000 visitors.

Associated Press, Canada's Olympics city has notorious skid row
The International Olympic Committee's bid evaluation team did not see the Downtown Eastside when it assessed Vancouver's bid in 2003. When it came time to tour Vancouver venues, the IOC's bus took a wide detour around the neighborhood.
The bid evaluation team did see the scenic but treacherous highway from Vancouver to Whistler, host of alpine and sliding events. While about US$500 million has been spent on the road, the Downtown Eastside remains much the same.

Toronto Star, Are the Olympic Games really worth it?

Putting a dollar figure on the cost of the Vancouver Olympics is no easy task.

The bottom line is a moving target, with supporters saying the benefits of hosting the Games far outweigh budget numbers, and critics charging that the Olympics are a poor reason for governments and sponsors to overspend.

But ever since 2003, when Vancouver won the right to host the Games, the cost of putting on the events has kept rising.

The final costs of the Games won't be known for a long time afterwards – and maybe never. "Over time it may be answerable," said Robert VanWynsberghe, the lead researcher on the Games at the University of British Columbia. "For now we only have some of the data. It seems like the pre-Games economic forecasts are pretty ambitious and they tend not to be borne out in the overall impact of the Games."

A study released this week by the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business found little evidence of big economic benefits or severe busts in cities that hosted an Olympics.

Telegraph, Winter Olympics 2010

The International Olympic Committee has confirmed it has struck a deal with the Canadian border authorities for them to pass on information about drug smuggling involving anybody accredited for the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

But IOC president Jacques Rogge said on Thursday that it was up to the Canadian authorities whether there would be any police raids at Olympic venues, including the athletes' village.

The deal, which flies in the face of Canada's strong privacy laws, applies only for the period of the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.


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