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Vanoc expects no profit in 2010 Games with economic slump

Vanoc expects no profit in 2010 Games with economic slump

The organizers of the 2010 Winter Olympics no longer expect to leave a
financial surplus for future sport development.

The same worldwide economic downturn that has bankrupted companies and
left tens of thousands of people without jobs has also eaten up — for
now — any potential Olympic profit, John Furlong, the head of the
Vancouver Organizing Committee, said Wednesday.

Furlong said Vanoc is struggling just to make sure it breaks even when
the Games end next year.

Vanoc doesn’t have the same financial stability as Calgary did when it
left a surplus from the 1988 Olympics that blossomed into a $200
million endowment, he said.

“It is not business as usual. It is not like it was. We will be very
happy to get to break even, and if we get beyond that, well, we will
have thought we did far more than anyone thought possible.

“To leave a financial legacy against everything that is going on today
would be quite an achievement. We want to, but nobody is going to be
running around today predicting that,” Furlong said.

Vanoc has never quantified how much of a surplus it hoped to generate.
It received $110 million from the federal and provincial governments
for a trust fund to look after the future needs of the Nordic and
bobsled venues and Richmond’s fast-track speed-skating oval.

It also agreed to give the Canadian Olympic Committee and the IOC each
20 per cent of any profits from the Games, and to put the remaining 60
per cent into the venue trust fund. But Furlong said that is unlikely
to happen now.

His comments came as the International Olympic Committee’s Vancouver
Coordination Commission wrapped up its penultimate visit with a
caution from commission chairman Rene Fasel that Vanoc now “cannot
rest on its laurels.”

Fasel said the IOC found no significant problems with efforts to date
and that a spate of recent test events had raised confidence in
Vanoc’s operations. But the IOC also knows Vanoc is struggling
financially because of the worldwide recession.

“Vanoc will also need to remain vigilant to any risks that may present
themselves over the coming year while continuing to enhance its
overall operations,” Fasel said.

Furlong said he was still working on a plan to bring medal
presentation ceremonies back to Whistler’s celebration plaza, but
won’t have an answer until later this month.

Vanoc’s financial problems are complicated by the fact the IOC still
has not signed the last two of 11 promised top sponsors. As a result,
Vanoc is $30 million short in its $1.7 billion budget.

Gilbert Felli, the IOC’s executive director of Olympic Games, said he
still hopes to find sponsors in the life insurance and health products
categories, but suggested Vanoc would have to live within its means if
they don’t materialize.

Vanoc executive vice-president David Cobb said he expects the IOC to
make up the difference.

“Clearly the IOC knows that it is in our budget and it is a big amount
of money, and if it was to disappear it would be a challenge for us,”
he said.

“They are doing their best to secure that money, and if they don’t, we
will have talk to them at that time.”

Dick Pound, Canada’s IOC member, said he believes the IOC will make good.

“I don’t think the IOC is under any misapprehension that Vanoc will be
looking to them for its share of one or two TOP (The Olympic Program)
sponsor categories,” Pound said.

During the bid phase, Pound at one point wrote to The Vancouver Sun
saying that “if your city cannot make a profit from hosting the Games
these days, then you just aren’t doing it right. Vancouver can do it

However, he has changed his views in the current climate.

“I think the public would be happy if there was no more taxpayer money
put in than was budgeted, and if we win both [men’s and women’s]
hockeys. I don’t think they give a s--t about anything else,” he said.



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