Wednesday, February 17, 2010

How Do the Vancouver Games Rate?

OK, time to get some rating of the Vancouver Games versus other recent ones

Environment:
Other than Sydney, all the summer games clearly have had more of an impact on the environment. This biggest impact of the Vancouver Games has been the travel of all the people to get to the games. Vanoc says they purchased enough carbon credits to cover this.

The only greenfield site was the Callaghan valley for the nordic events, a very low amount for any games.

The game sites are compactly located and accessible by public transit, something that has not happened in the winter Olympics since.

Turin were the greenest games to date, but Vancouver has easily broken that mark. Salt Lake City had some major issues with infrastructure built in the mountains.

Vancouver is the Best

Security
This is a big issue and one of the reasons the winter games costs have risen a lot.
The Vancouver games will be the least expensive ones for security. Post 9/11 this has been a major issue. Beijing spent $6 billion, Turin $1.4 billion, Athens $1.54 billion, and Salt Lake City spent about $350 million but this does not include the costs of the military, FBI or the military. The US hastily put together the enhanced security package post 9/11 and spent untold amounts.

Post 9/11 Vancouver has done the best

Protest and Dissent
2008 Beijing did not allow any, period. China is one the worst abusers of aboriginal people on earth, it has a huge homelessness problem and allows no free speech. No one could raise these issues.

Turin only allowed it in very small protest zones and had a very heavy handed police presence to stop an protests

Salt Lake City had protest zones and enforced them - though this is Mormon country so any protesters would have to come in from far out of town.

In Sydney in 2000 - before 9/11 - the games did not allow for much pr0test and the government used a lot of police

Athens takes the protester cake for games in a long time. Thousands of protesters clashed with the police. trash cans on fire, windows smashed, pepper spray and tear gas used

Meanwhile in Vancouver the police have been relaxed and laid back. At the time of the biggest clash on Saturday, the police spent more time and energy making sure the protesters did not come under attack from the public. The police in Vancouver are allowing people to wander around with anti-Olympic signs in the middle of the LiveCity areas.

Vancouver is doing better than the other Olympics of late.

Organization
Beijing - When you are dictators and tell people to do as you want and shoot anyone that disagrees, it is pretty easy to get done what you want. Still, there were some major logistical problems

Turin - Subway line was not completed, Internet access for media was flakey, non core sites left unconstructed, piles of construction debris were all around, in general Turin needed another six months to a year to be really ready

Athens - the nightmare games, that is all the needs to be said

Salt Lake City - things ran smoothly

Sydney - it all ran smoothly

Vancouver is on a par with the better games of late.

Weather
Beijing - worst summer conditions in a generation of Olympics or more. Normally summer games are not a weather problem, though it will be in London.

Turin had weather problems in the first week.

Salt Lake City only had problems in one event with wind.

Nagano had some major weather problems and almost lead to some events being cancelled.

Grenoble in 1968 were as green as Vancouver and some events were actually shortened due to warm weather.

Innsbruk in 1964 had virtually no snow and was warm. The military had to move in 60,000 cubic metres of snow to make any snow events possible. That is 1500 semi truck loads of snow.

Vancouver is on the bottom with weather, but not the worst ever.

Financial
Based on the price of the tickets and the numbers sold versus the costs to operate the games, I would be very surprised if the actual operations of Vanoc did not show a surplus.

Beijing and Athens - who knows if they made money, but I would be surprised if they did but no one has access to any real figures from either one.

Winter games have been close to breaking even with a small surplus or deficit for many years. The only expection is Lillehammer when operating costs out paced revenues by 65%

Nagano in 1998 was the last time that a lot of sports infrastructure was built for a winter games.

To claim the costs of the Sea to Sky highway or the Canada Line should be counted as Olympic expenses is crazy. Both have been needed since the early 1990s and are close to 20 years overdue.

We will not know for sometime how well Vanoc did, but to date the costs for these games have been less than most recent games and there has been no obvious cost controversies in the run up to the games.

Attendance
Turin had a much lower attendance than expected. Vancouver seems to be way ahead of even the most optimistic projections. Vancouver also seems to have by far the largest general public involvement in the games of any winter games. Total attendance for for everything during the 17 days could be in the range of 10,000,000 people.

Vancouver is clearly doing the best of any winter games


All in all, everything points to Vancouver being one of the best Olympic games of all time.
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