With the 2010 Winter Olympics in full swing, most Canadians are reveling in the fact that much unlike the 1988 Games held in Calgary, Team Canada is achieving impressive results. As of this writing, Canada sits fourth, behind only France, Germany and the United States in the medal standings with five in total. With a bronze, two silvers and two spectacular gold medals, Canada is poised to have one of its best Olympic showings yet.
Other Canadians, however – especially British Columbia residents – are concerned about the impact that the Olympic Games will have on the local economy. Many point to the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal that forced the city into financial hardship, as a reason to believe that this year’s Winter Games will spell economic doom for Vancouver.
In November of 2009, a press release from the province worked to quell any fear of financial strain brought on by the Olympics. Issued by The Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of State (Sport), and B.C. Minister of State for the Olympics and ActNow BC, Mary McNeil, the release announced the results of a Socio-economic Impact Study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers. It reported numerous positive impacts that the Games would have on the province’s economy.
Covering the period between 2003 and 2008, the report found that one of the greatest impacts that the Games have is the creation of jobs. Said the release: “More than 22,000 jobs were created; sport development, where our athletes have improved tremendously; environmental sustainability; and arts and culture.”
As well, it was revealed that the Games generated between $684 million and $884 million in real gross domestic product to British Columbia and an additional $170 million in real GDP to Canada.
Said Lunn: “While this is just a snapshot of what has already happened, the report provides concrete evidence that the Games have given the B.C. and Canadian economies a boost…Our investments are achieving their intended results, including improved athlete performance in international competition, made-in-Canada innovations in building design, and unprecedented Aboriginal participation.”
The November release also revealed that the nation’s investments in sport were paying off as Canada’s winter athletes were “reaching new heights in performance and medal finishes.” A bold prediction, perhaps, but the recent results at the Games are showing signs that the nation’s athletic programs are indeed, improving.
Said McNeil: “We’ve always believed that the Games would provide the catalyst for economic, social, and athletic development provincially and nationally…These results are just the beginning, and we know that once we start to measure 2009 and 2010, we’ll see that British Columbia is continuing to get a powerful economic lift from the Games just when we need it most.”
Surprisingly, some team members at Synergy were informed today that a few businesses in Vancouver had closed their doors for the duration of the Olympic Games to avoid the “havoc”. Time will soon tell what the actual impact the 2010 Winter Olympics will have on both the provincial and national economy. Of course, as with the athletes themselves, the nation is hoping for a golden outcome.