VANOC board of directors declare Vancouver and Whistler ready to host the
world in 23 days

Arrival of Olympic Flame in British Columbia heralds final leg of journey towards 2010 Olympic Winter Games

VANCOUVER, Jan. 20 /CNW/ - With just 23 days remaining before the world is welcomed to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, the board of directors - in their final meeting before the Games begin - gave their seal of approval to the finishing touches the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) is preparing on behalf of all Canadians for a worldwide audience.

"The board is confident the organizing committee and its partners are well prepared to meet the extraordinary day-to-day challenges of hosting one of the largest international sporting events," said board chairman Rusty Goepel. "Many hurdles have been overcome in the past few months - both with ingenuity and a lot of long hours by dedicated staff, contractors and volunteers, which will make all Canadians proud."

Among the general updates discussed was the final leg of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay, which officially starts Thursday when the Olympic Flame re-enters British Columbia, the Host Province of the Games, through the Rocky Mountains and into the town of Golden. The flame will complete its 106-day journey across Canada towards BC Place and light the Olympic Cauldron on February 12, welcoming the world to the Games.

"Tomorrow will be an incredibly exciting day for all of us involved in the 2010 Winter Games as we welcome the Olympic Flame back to British Columbia. It's been an inspiring relay throughout Canada with warm welcomes extended everywhere leading to a steadily growing excitement towards the Games. We are truly in the home stretch now of final preparations to welcome the world," Goepel continued.

Peter Lougheed, who was instrumental in the securing and organizing of the Calgary 1988 Olympic Winter Games, will pass the flame to Wally Buono, head coach of the Canadian Football League's BC Lions, as it officially enters British Columbia through Kicking Horse Pass. The pass, the highest point on the Canadian Pacific Railway at 1,627 metres, is a national historic site and played an important role in connecting Canadians to each other and the world through the railway in the 1880s and later on with the construction of the Trans-Canada Highway in the 1960s.

"It's been a remarkable journey up to this point and we take a moment now and again, like today, to enjoy the moment but then it's back to work as our team continues to work around the clock to make sure every detail is tended to," said John Furlong, Chief Executive Officer of VANOC. "The relay continues to showcase what a marvelous and beautiful country Canada is, filled with people willing to share their amazing stories and show lots and lots of heart. We hope you'll all be with us in spirit, if not in person, on February 12."

Today, the board of directors also discussed the following updates:

    
    -   Cypress Mountain: A light snow fell late last week on the Olympic
        venue as the venue team continues to work 24 hours a day to preserve
        and protect the integrity of the snowboard and freestyle skiing
        courses. After days of unseasonably warm and wet weather, VANOC and
        Cypress Mountain management agreed on January 13 to close the ski
        resort's alpine runs to the public. The snow management and snow
        harvesting program for the Games remains on track and contingency
        plans are in place to deliver an exceptional field of play for
        athletes.

    -   Transportation: The third and final phase of the 2010 Winter Games
        integrated transportation plan was launched on January 12 and
        detailed temporary street closures planned in the City of Vancouver
        on February 10, 12 and 28 and March 12. The closures are necessary to
        help ensure successful ceremonies.

        As the third week of the TravelSmart 2010 Challenge takes place on
        Friday, January 22, there is more work to be done to encourage
        drivers who frequently travel by car in downtown Vancouver to start
        practising their Games-time travel plans now. This week's road
        closure is Renfrew Street between McGill and Dundas (as of
        January 24).

        To date, 50 per cent of tickets available on the Olympic bus network
        (OBN) have been booked. All spectators must purchase these tickets
        for travel to events at Cypress Mountain, and spectators originating
        from Metro Vancouver attending events in the Whistler area will also
        require tickets on the OBN. VANOC is encouraging all spectators to
        book as there is no public parking at any of the Games venues and
        daily traffic restrictions are in place for vehicles attempting to
        drive northbound on the Sea to Sky Highway during Games time.

    -   Venue Overlay: VANOC's overlay teams are continuing to work on the
        complex process of making Games venues ready for the world's top
        winter athletes and spectators. Overlay and the construction of
        temporary structures, such as bleachers and tents, are substantially
        complete at the mountain venues and work is progressing well at city
        venues.

        The athletes' villages in Vancouver and Whistler anticipate the first
        arrival of team delegates on January 28, with formal openings
        scheduled for February 4. More than 80 country flags will soon be
        hoisted on flagpoles at the Olympic and Paralympic Village Vancouver.
        The dining halls in the villages are substantially complete, and
        furniture, fixtures and equipment load-in is on schedule.

    -   Finance: The project remains on target to finish with a balanced
        budget. Procurement is largely complete for numerous goods and
        services. Information is posted at www.vancouver2010.com once
        contracts are finalized.

    -   Ticketing: Tickets are still available online at
        www.vancouver2010.com/tickets or by calling the call centre
        (1.800.TICKETS). Main Ticket Centres in downtown Vancouver at Robson
        Square (at the UBC Bookstore), the Tourism Vancouver Visitor Centre
        (located at Plaza Level, 200 Burrard St.), and in Whistler continue
        to serve customers daily, with venue box offices opening on the first
        day of competition.

    -   Licensing and Merchandise: Olympic merchandise continues to sell well
        and the Vancouver 2010 Red Mittens continue to be a hot item beyond
        expectations. More than 1.8 million pairs have been sold since the
        launch last fall and inventory has been added in advance of the
        Games. More than 725,000 units of plush mascots have also been sold
        to date.

    -   Workforce: All planned Games-time recruitment has been completed.
        VANOC's recruitment strategy included: a student sponsorship program,
        secondee program, in-house recruitment, and outsourced recruitment
        with a service provider. Approximately 1,100 employees were recruited
        in six weeks.

    -   Accreditation: Since the Uniform and Accreditation Centre in
        Vancouver (UAV) opened at the Pacific Coliseum on December 14 and two
        other accreditation centres opened earlier this month at the Main
        Media Centre in downtown Vancouver and in Whistler, more than 25,000
        people, including 100 press and 1,200 broadcasters, have received
        their accreditations for the Olympic Winter Games. On the UAV's
        busiest upcoming days, between February 4 and February 11, the centre
        will serve up to 840 people per day (uniforms) and 3,000 people per
        day (accreditations). More accreditation centres are opening this
        month at the athletes' villages, Vancouver International Airport
        (YVR) and the Olympic Family hotel.

    -   Cultural Olympiad: The Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad officially
        launches on Friday with the opening of the newly expanded version of
        Joni Mitchell's The Fiddle and the Drum by the Alberta Ballet. More
        than 200 projects are part of the lineup of music, theatre, visual
        arts, dance, and digital programming taking place in Metro Vancouver
        and the Sea to Sky region until March 21, 2010. The Cultural Olympiad
        program guide is now available for free throughout the Games region.
        Tickets are available at www.vancouver2010.com.

    -   Bilingual Experience at the Games: Last week, the Government of
        Canada announced the signing of an agreement between the federal
        government, the federal Translation Bureau and VANOC. Additional
        translators from the bureau are relocating and will provide services
        as needed - both at VANOC headquarters and the Main Media Centre
        (MMC).

    -   Paralympic Torch Relay: The application window for torchbearer spots
        on the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Torch Relay closed on January 6 with
        thousands of applications received by the Province of British
        Columbia at www.YouGottaBeHere.ca. Successful applicants will be
        confirmed in early February. The relay starts on March 3 in Ottawa,
        ON.
    

VANOC Board of Directors Background

The VANOC board of directors is made up of 19 members nominated by: the Canadian Olympic Committee (seven); the Government of Canada (three); the Province of British Columbia (three); the City of Vancouver (two); the Resort Municipality of Whistler (two); the Canadian Paralympic Committee (one); a joint appointment by the Band Councils of the Lil'wat and Squamish Nations (one).

The board is scheduled to meet six times per year, and more often at the call of the chair as required. The meetings are generally held at the VANOC offices in Vancouver, although they have been occasionally hosted by our Games partners in other locations. The board's responsibility is to oversee the conduct of the business of VANOC as it works toward achieving its Mission: to touch the soul of the nation and inspire the world by creating and delivering an extraordinary Olympic and Paralympic experience with lasting legacies.

As part of its commitment to public transparency and accountability, the VANOC board of directors has made today's agenda, discussion topics and decisions available to the public on www.vancouver2010.com, subject to conditions of confidentiality related to personal information and/or competitively sensitive or privileged information. VANOC is also committed to hosting media briefings following each board meeting with the board chairman, the CEO and other director(s) or members of the VANOC senior management team to elaborate further on matters.

About VANOC

VANOC is responsible for the planning, organizing, financing and staging of the XXI Olympic Winter Games and the X Paralympic Winter Games in 2010. The 2010 Olympic Winter Games will be staged in Vancouver and Whistler from February 12 to 28, 2010. Vancouver and Whistler will host the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games from March 12 to 21, 2010. Visit www.vancouver2010.com.

SOURCE VANCOUVER ORGANIZING COMMITTEE FOR THE 2010 OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC WINTER GAMES

For further information: For further information: Media Contact: VANOC Communications, (604) 403-1611, mediarelations@vancouver2010.com

Organization Profile

VANCOUVER ORGANIZING COMMITTEE FOR THE 2010 OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC WINTER GAMES

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