Concerns dull 2010 Games party preparations

Wed Feb 11, 2009 10:25pm EST
 
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By Steve Keating

WHISTLER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Security concerns and a global financial crisis hung over party preparations for the one-year countdown to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics on Wednesday.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge, swapping his usual suit-and-tie for a sweater, arrived in the Olympic resort looking relaxed and ready to join the celebrations planned for across Canada on Thursday to mark the one-year countdown.

"We're looking forward to tomorrow to having just a day to celebrate and feel good about what has transpired over the last decade," John Furlong, chief executive officer of the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee (VANOC) told a packed news briefing.

But it is what has transpired over the last few months, not the last decade, that has set off alarm bells across Vancouver as the bill for staging the Games continues to climb.

This month VANOC has been busy trimming costs in an effort to reign in an operating budget that has shot up C$127 million to C$1.75 billion ($1.42 billion).

CASH-STRAPPED DEVELOPERS

At the same time, the City of Vancouver has been forced to take over financing of the athletes' village after cash-strapped developers of the C$1 billion ($800 million) project watched their funding dry up in the withering economy.

As the February 12 milestone approached, British Columbia residents were bracing for a gigantic Olympic bill to land on their doorstep, with Games security costs originally projected at $175 million expected to skyrocket to $1 billion.   Continued...