Vancouver 2010 gains valuable insights on Games and athlete experience from Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games

    BEIJING, China, Sept. 16 /CNW/ - As the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games
move into the final day of competition, the Vancouver Organizing Committee for
the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) summarized key learnings
from the VANOC team who attended the Games and took the opportunity to
recognize the outstanding efforts of the Beijing Organizing Committee and the
performance of the Canadian Paralympic team.
    "Both the athletes and the people of Beijing had the opportunity to shine
during these Games. With the support of Chinese national television and
hundreds of thousands of cheering fans, the 2008 Paralympic Games have left an
indelible mark on the city and the entire country. The people of Beijing, and
the Paralympic audience worldwide saw, first hand, the power of the human
spirit through the passion and performance of these incredible athletes," said
John Furlong, VANOC Chief Executive Officer. "We now have an opportunity to
build upon the excitement and momentum that Beijing 2008 brought to the
Paralympic Movement and Paralympic sport. Congratulations to the International
Paralympic Committee (IPC), the Beijing 2008 Games Organizing Committee and
the people of Beijing and China for brilliantly hosting and showcasing the
talents and abilities of Paralympic athletes on the world stage."
    Continued Furlong, "Congratulations also to the Canadian team, which
achieved such tremendous success at these Games, and to the Canadian
Paralympic Committee. These athletes have demonstrated the power of sport to
lift us up, to challenge ourselves and to inspire a nation."
    VANOC team members spent time observing and learning in key areas such as
the transition between Olympic and Paralympic Games; Paralympic planning;
village operations; medical services; community engagement and Paralympic
outreach; accessibility; sport production; volunteers; and National Paralympic
Committee (NPC) services.
    "This is our final opportunity to observe a Paralympic Games until our
turn in 2010," said Dena Coward, director, Paralympic Games. "The lessons
learned by our team here will enhance our integrated planning approach and
ensure the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games continue to raise the bar for the
Paralympic Movement. We look forward to hosting these remarkable athletes and
sharing their compelling stories and their outstanding abilities with Canada
and the world."
    The following is a summary of observations and learnings in key areas:

    Television broadcast: As interest in Paralympic sport grows, so too does
television and general media coverage. During the Beijing 2008 Paralympic
Games, the IPC's web-based ParalympicSport.TV experienced a significant
increase in viewership. China Central Television broadcast continuous
Paralympic coverage, leading to a notable impact on attendance and awareness.
VANOC acknowledges the critical importance of Paralympic Games media coverage,
particularly through television, recognizing that almost everyone who
witnesses Paralympic sport - either in person or through television - is
immediately moved and impressed by the calibre of the athletes, the excitement
of the competitions and the power of the Paralympic Games. VANOC will continue
to work with broadcasters to expand coverage of the 2010 Paralympic Winter
Games so the widest possible audience can watch live coverage of Paralympic
events on television.
    "VANOC is leading the Paralympic rights negotiations with all
broadcasters worldwide and we are focused on increasing their commitment to
both live and extensive coverage," said Furlong. "The television signals of
the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games will be produced fully in High-Definition
Television (HDTV) - a first for the Paralympic Winter Games, and a step which
allows broadcasters to bring the highest quality coverage to their viewers
around the world. At a national level, our broadcast negotiations are
advancing quickly and we expect to set new precedents for live and overall
daily coverage of the Games."

    Paralympic Planning: Detailed and thorough planning is necessary to
achieve a smooth and successful transition from Olympic to Paralympic Games,
thereby enhancing the athlete and spectator experience. Details such as
appropriate signage and adjusting equipment needs, such as determining the
number of flagpoles required to represent competing nations, to account for
the smaller scale of the Paralympic Games should be carefully considered so
that the transition takes place as smoothly as possible. The Paralympic Games
pose additional challenges when meeting the needs of athletes with a variety
of disabilities and VANOC's integrated planning model ensures that Paralympic
requirements are addressed well in advance of Games time. Accessibility at the
competition and non-competition venues is paramount to the athlete experience,
as is working with the host communities to ensure accessibility throughout the
region, allowing athletes and visitors to move freely beyond the footprint of
the Games.

    Transition: Integrated planning and a pre-Games strategy for transition
are key to delivering a seamless transition from Olympic to Paralympic Games
in an extremely short timeframe. Key transition elements include the
changeover of Games pageantry (Look of the Games); athlete village move-outs
(Olympic Games) and move-ins (Paralympic Games); and venue changeovers, to
ensure accessible sport conditions. In Beijing, the transition of Look of the
Games elements was completed at Games venues within 48 hours and within five
days across the city. VANOC's integrated planning model will include specific
schedules and a detailed project resource plan for all transition elements.

    Villages: The athlete experience is paramount to an athlete's success at
Games time. Much of this experience takes place at the Athletes' Village. The
Beijing Organizing Committee ensured that details at its Games Village were
carefully considered, from the adaptation of dining facilities to accommodate
wheelchair athletes and the location of athletes to the first three floors of
the Village to enhance accessibility (also reflecting the fact that fewer
countries were participating in the Paralympic Games). VANOC is delivering a
high standard of accessibility in all its athlete accommodations and village
facilities, reflecting the array of needs for persons with a disability, from
wheelchair use to visual impairment. In addition, VANOC is working to simplify
the customer service needs of the athletes that will be attending the 2010
Paralympic Winter Games through a centralized service number for residents of
the Athletes' Villages, creating "one-stop shopping" for all requests.

    Community Engagement: Igniting the passion and excitement of spectators
and the community is essential to the success of Paralympic Games. The Beijing
Organizing Committee provided increased public access to the Olympic Green and
to Paralympic tickets, resulting in dynamic and exciting venues operating at
near or full capacity. For athletes taking part in the Games, competing before
thousands of new and engaged fans had a direct positive impact on them.
Through education, including Paralympic outreach and awareness programs, VANOC
is working toward creating an informed and excited audience that is eager to
embrace and participate in Paralympic events and celebrations. To this end, on
August 28 VANOC announced an affordable and accessible Paralympic ticketing

    Medical: The Paralympic Games require specialized services to meet the
needs of athletes using equipment that is critical to their performance, such
as wheelchairs and prosthetic devices. Expedient and efficient repair service
to this equipment is critical to athlete success. In addition, as observed in
Beijing, a successful repair facility can also enhance the athlete experience,
serving as a social hub and meeting place for athletes in need of equipment
    VANOC is using a comprehensive and integrated approach in the delivery of
athlete medical services including physiotherapy, massage therapy,
chiropractics, podiatry and acupuncture. This array of services will allow the
athletes to select the service that best suits their needs.

    Transportation: Accessible transportation during the Paralympic Games is
critical for the efficient movement of athletes, officials and members of the
Paralympic Family, with or without a disability. For example, single-purpose
transport (such as lift-equipped vans) limits the ability to move both
wheelchair and non-wheelchair users if additional seating is not provided
within the vehicle. VANOC is working to provide accessible and flexible-use
transport vehicles that can accommodate a variety of users.
    When moving a large population of wheelchair users, attention to detail
and organization is vital. The Beijing Organizing Committee deployed new
loading techniques for wheelchair-accessible buses, making the load/unload
process extremely efficient for large-scale transport at events such as the
Opening Ceremony.

    Spectator Experience: Using sport production elements, such as
large-screen video to provide background information on each Paralympic sport
and the definitions for the various disability classifications, greatly
enhances the spectator experience. VANOC will have the opportunity to both
entertain and educate, creating a more meaningful experience for spectators.
VANOC also noted that an enhanced variety of food choices at the venues will
contribute to the spectator experience.

    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

For further information:

For further information: Suzanne Walters, VANOC Communications, Tel.:
(778) 328-6386, E-mail:

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