CORRECTED: Olympics-Vancouver hits button on 2010 Games

Fri Feb 13, 2009 4:55am EST
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Corrects to Vancouver Island from Victoria Island in 15th paragraph

By Steve Keating

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Canadians put aside the doom and gloom of a global economic crisis to celebrate the one-year countdown to the 2010 Winter Olympics on Thursday, inviting the world to Vancouver next February.

There was a noticeable buzz in the Olympic city as Vancouverites were hit with the reality that the Winter Games they had dreamt of for nearly a decade are now just months away.

For most Canadians, particularly those in the country's western most province, the 2010 Olympics had become little more than a steady stream of grim headlines due to surging costs.

But as the clock ticked down to 364 days, it was time to think about the medals to be won and not how much they will cost.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge, speaking from a podium at the Richmond speed skating oval that is due to become the Olympics signature venue, extended the official invitation calling on athletes to assemble in Vancouver.

Each invitation sent to National Olympic Committees will go out with an iconic Hudson Bay blanket.

"Today we are dispatching the invitations to the 21st Olympic Winter Games, the countdown is beginning," Rogge told an invitation-only audience. "For athletes around the world the chance to compete next year in Vancouver will be their goal, the culmination of a lifetime's ambition.   Continued...