Budget talk to dominate Vancouver countdown

Tue Feb 10, 2009 8:32pm EST
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By Steve Keating

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - As Vancouver prepares to start the one-year countdown to the 2010 Winter Olympics organizers are increasingly aware that the global financial crisis will put them under extra pressure.

Last year, with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) distracted by human rights issues in China and then the world captivated by the glossy Beijing Olympics, scant attention was paid to the 2010 Winter Games as Vancouver's preparations remained on course and on budget.

Now the Olympic spotlight has shifted, just as the economic crisis bites, turning what the Vancouver organizing committee (VANOC) had hoped would be a glorious sprint to the finish into a tip-toe through a financial minefield.

"I think the year ahead will be tenfold more challenging than any year we've had before," John Furlong, CEO of the committee, told Reuters ahead of Thursday's one-year milestone.

"When Beijing was over it was as if this giant microscope in the sky just switched and pointed itself on Vancouver. We could feel this immediate pressure that we are next up.

"You start to realize what all these deadlines mean. We know precisely to the second when the opening ceremonies will start and there's no negotiating that.

"I had hoped that on January 1 we would stop talking about budgets and we could hand our teams all the tools and resources to deliver what they have to deliver and get on with working on the experience of the Games.

"Well, there won't be a day, an hour, from here until February 12, 2010, that we are not talking about budgets.   Continued...

<p>A view of the interior of the Colliseum, venue for the Figure Skating and Short Track Speed Skating during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, during the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Vancouver, British Columbia in this February 7, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Andy Clark/Files</p>