2010 Winter Olympics provided economic and cultural boost

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Source: GLOBE Foundation

Vancouver -- British Columbia's economy grew in 2010 with new businesses, jobs and an increase in visitor spending, all likely related to the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, says a University of British Columbia study that measured the impact of the Games.

In addition to the economic benefits, the report also noted other positive outcomes including the development of sport and culture across Canada, the inclusion and participation of Aboriginal groups and minorities and a heightened recognition of persons with disabilities.

'Throughout the Olympics and in the weeks immediately following, there was a real sense of success and pride among British Columbians and Canadians,' says Rob VanWynsberghe, lead author of the study. 'These feelings were well-founded, some real success stories came out of these Games.

The Olympic Games Impact (OGI) study Games-time report is the third in a series of four reports required by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to measure the overall impact of the 2010 Winter Games.

Led by VanWynsberghe, an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Studies at UBC, the OGI study uses 126 IOC-mandated indicators to assess the social, economic and environmental impacts of the Olympics on Vancouver, Whistler, British Columbia and Canada.

The OGI study is now overseen by the Canadian Olympic Committee following the post-Games wrap-up of the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The COC will continue to support the OGI research at UBC over the next two years.

'This study confirms what we all saw during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games,' said COC President Marcel Aubut. 'The sense of pride that swept up our nation was a turning point in our nation's history. The Games injected millions into the local economy and great strides have been made in making these events more environmentally sound.'

Key findings of the UBC-OGI Games-time report:

Socio-cultural impacts

  • Inclusion - Aboriginal groups and minorities participated in the bidding, planning and staging of the Games. Data from opinion polls conducted before and after the Paralympic Games showed that public awareness of people with disabilities increased as a result of the Games.
  • Sport - Municipal, provincial and federal governments introduced policies and projects to leverage the Games, including a program for excellence in sport, Own the Podium, that likely increased the number of medals won by Canadian athletes.
  • Arts and culture - Arts and culture were a significant aspect of the hosting of the 2010 Games
  • Housing - There were no new data related to homelessness and affordable housing subsequent to the Pre-Games Report. The report noted that possible media attention and local advocacy efforts may have catalyzed government efforts to address these issues. The following OGI report is expected to provide further insight on these issues.

Economic impacts

  • Business and jobs - New businesses and new jobs were created that related directly to the Olympics such as venue operation, as well as indirectly such as hotel and restaurant jobs.
  • Real estate - Increases in the cost of hotel stays and in real estate prices in the year 2010 were both potentially due to the Games.
  • Tourism - Increases in YVR airport traffic (passenger and freight) and in visitor spending around the time of the Games were both potentially due to the 2010 Winter Games.
  • Tax revenue - The Games-time report conservatively estimates that the public sector benefited by at least $50 million (CAD) in total tax revenue from Olympic activities.

Environmental impacts

  • Greenhouse gas emissions - Data from VANOC showed that Olympic-related greenhouse gas emissions increased every year following 2005, with an eight-fold increase during Games-time compared to the organizing period, mainly due to transportation to and around Vancouver.
  • Mode of travel - During the Games, travel into and out of the downtown core (where many Games-related events were held) increased. During this period, the share of low-impact modes of travel into and out of the downtown core became the dominant mode of travel over personal vehicle use.
  • Energy consumption - Olympic-related energy consumption for facility operation and transportation during the Games was almost an equal share between fossil fuels and renewable sources. Most of the energy (80 per cent) was used for venues and facilities.

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