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Olympic Rings To Float In Coal Harbour


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Olympic party begins with rings going out to sea


OCTOBER 4, 2009

The Olympic rings are the jealously guarded trademark and international symbol of the 2010 Winter Games. The International Olympic Committee won't let you plant those five famous rings just anywhere.

For a year now, Vancouver Olympic organizers have been searching for the right spot. What is the most public, jaw-dropping yet safest location in the city to place the icons? Atop the North Shore mountains, fastened to the Lions Gate Bridge or perhaps high above a building downtown where the massive crowds will be in February?

It's finally been decided -- the rings are going to sea instead.

More precisely, they're going to be put on a barge and anchored in the middle of Coal Harbour, where they will have Stanley Park and the North Shore mountains as their backdrop.

There's a reason for this beyond the nice scenery, though. The rings will not only remain safely inside the Olympics' security buffer, they will also be unreachable by land and guarded by the military divers and security patrols sealing off the harbour. It means little chance of the rings being hijacked as a stage or prop by protesters -- unless one of them can swim out to the barge undetected, an unlikely event with a $1-billion security operation in place.

It wasn't a decision reached without contentious debate.

There was talk of putting the rings -- which are identical copies of those outside the airport -- on top of the new convention centre. But they were determined to be too heavy. Then it was thought the rings ought to be erected on the boardwalk near the convention centre, where the international media will be working during the games. But NBC, the main media sponsor, balked at the idea, not wanting anything sticking up in the foreground to spoil the wilderness scenery for its carefully choreographed TV cameras.

Further complicating the decision was the unhappiness on the part of General Electric, a major Olympic sponsor. It wasn't impressed when it discovered the technology used to light the rings at night wasn't its own but rather from a small competitor. Not the best way to brand yourself.

But after months of wrangling, the decision has finally been made. The rings will be barged out to Coal Harbour on the day the Olympic Clock in downtown Vancouver flashes 100 days to go before the Games begin. The opening, incidentally, is exactly 129 days from today.

It's another small sign -- along with the giant Canadian flag pasted onto the Hotel Georgia last week -- that the Olympic buzz, in short supply up to now, is starting to intensify.

In the next few days, the City of Vancouver will announce the details of its Olympic celebration site near David Lam Park. It will also announce it is extending bar hours during the Games, to try to generate a party atmosphere in the city.

Alas, it won't quite be the "white nights" of Torino, site of the 2006 Winter Games, where the town stayed open 24 hours a day to party. But there are plans to shake Vancouver's "no-fun" image by at least extending closing time for an extra hour or two across the city and supplying extended public transit service for revellers to get home.

There's also going to be more news in the next few days about the celebrities who will be coming, many to entertain at BC Place Stadium and the free live sites where tens of thousands of people are expected to gather. Top of the list is Canadian pop diva Celine Dion, who has quietly offered to perform for free, likely at the Opening Ceremony.

Security is being prepared for international VIPs, too. Some of the world's top business leaders will be coming to town. There are also at least three dozen world leaders and heads of state who will fly into Vancouver.

Two of most anticipated seem to be off the list, though.

The Queen is giving the Games a pass. She'll dispatch Gov.-Gen. Michaelle Jean instead, though her majesty is considering a trip to Vancouver in the spring. It's also expected that U.S. President Barack Obama, who saw his hopes of Chicago hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics dashed by Rio de Janeiro last week, will likely stay at home.

Too bad for them. Vancouver, finally, seems to be getting into the Olympic mood.

Let the partying begin.


© Copyright © The Vancouver Sun

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i thought this was interesting, from vanoc:

·By July 2009, VANOC had a full-time workforce of 1,302. By Games time, the number will grow to more than 55,000, including 1,400 paid staff, 3,500 temporary staff, 25,000 volunteers, 10,000 contractors, and 15,000 ceremony participants.

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i, and 15,000 ceremony participants.

Seems a little high for me...not unless they are counting 2 sets of performers for Opening AND closing.

Beijing first announced they would need 50,000 performers. Nah. It was only like 10,500 for Opening (minus the pre-show dancers) and like another 2,500 for Closing. So in total they really used about 13.000 performers -- way off the 50,000 first announced.

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15,000 could include backstage volunteers and volunteers for all those nightly medal ceremonies in both Vancouver and Whistler.

I believe they said there will be at least 4,500 volunteer performers for the opening.

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