Fri, Jul 04, 2003 - Page 24 News List

Vancouver to host 2010 Winter Olympics

AP , VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA

Downtown Vancouver at dawn in this March 2002 file photo. International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge announced that the Canadian city will stage the 2010 Winter Olympics.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Her face painted like the Canadian flag, Jennifer Goepel clasped her hands together while giant viewscreens showed International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge a continent away.

When Rogge announced that Vancouver would host the 2010 Winter Olympics, the 28-year-old Goepel and 10,000 other people started celebrating at the General Motors Place arena.

"Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God. We did it!" Goepel screamed.

Crowds at the downtown arena and 150km away at the Whistler ski resort shouted for joy, hugged each other and twirled towels and waved banners marked by a red maple leaf, the national symbol.

In downtown Vancouver streets, cars flying Canadian flags honked their horns throughout the afternoon.

Rogge was in Prague, Czech Republic, when he announced the Pacific coastal city's selection over bids from Salzburg, Austria, and Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Minutes later, a huge Canadian flag was passed hand-to-hand by the General Motors Place crowd. A special edition of the Vancouver Sun daily newspaper appeared, its front-page headline a lone word: "Yes!"

The Vancouver bid, dubbed the "Sea to Sky Games," calls for most events to be held in the city of 2 million surrounded by snowcapped mountains.

Skiing and some other competitions will occur at Whistler.

Canada has not had the Olympics since Calgary hosted the 1988 Winter Games.

Ross Rebagliati, a snowboarding gold medalist at the 1998 Nagano Games in Japan who now lives in Whistler, said hosting the Games will raise the international profile of the city and the ski resort.

"The opportunities for tourism for both Vancouver and Whistler are going to be immense," Rebagliati said. "It will give us a chance to come up to par with the rest of the world."

Jim Green, a member of the Vancouver city council, said the Olympics means change. "It's going to be amazing," he said. "A new city will emerge."

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