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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 July, 2003, 19:00 GMT 20:00 UK
Canada cheers Olympic decision
Ian Gunn
By Ian Gunn
BBC Correspondent in Vancouver

Vancouverites reacted with ecstasy to the news that the city has been awarded the 2010 Winter Olympics by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

More than 10,000 people filled the city's ice hockey arena to watch the early-morning announcement on huge television screens and they erupted into deafening cheers when the result came.

Vancouverites before the verdict
They lined up for hours at the hockey stadium

Across the city people have been pouring onto the streets and leaning from balconies, waving Canadian flags and Olympic banners.

"It's wonderful. Vancouver has grown up today," said one woman outside the arena.

"Our city will never be the same again."

But there has been some disappointment as well.

A number of local groups opposed to Vancouver's Olympics are planning small protests in the city centre.

They have said repeatedly that Vancouver has more important issues - such as housing, hospitals and education - to be spending its money on.

A referendum vote in February showed about a third of Vancouverites opposed hosting the international event.

Polls since then have shown increasing public support for the event.

Whistler's games

The 2010 Olympics are being called Vancouver's games, but many of the skiing and Nordic events will be held about 100 kilometres (60 miles) away in the ski resort of Whistler.

There too, cheering crowds have filled the town centre on the news.

Ice hockey stadium
Ten thousand gathered in the early morning
But the decision to split events between Vancouver and Whistler exposed what many felt was the bid's main weakness, the Sea-to-Sky Highway.

The only road between the two sites is narrow, winding and sometimes treacherous in winter weather.

Some Olympic officials have expressed concern about the route and the time it takes to travel.

The government of British Columbia has promised several hundred million dollars in upgrades to the highway and with the bid won, work will begin almost immediately.

Road building will be just one of many economic boosts the region hopes to gain from the games.

One government study predicts as much as $7bn (10bn Canadian dollars) in economic spin-off from the games.

Some critics think those numbers are inflated, but there is little question the positive effects for tourism and construction will be felt in a region that has been hit by down-turns in its traditional economic mainstays - timber and fishing.

A Canadian victory?

Vancouver was considered by many to be the slight favourite going into the secret vote by IOC members, but those on Vancouver's bid team say they were never certain of victory.

Native Canadians celebrate
Canada is hoping for an Olympic dividend
Tighter bidding rules imposed following bribery scandals with earlier bids meant the bid teams had few opportunities to lobby IOC members directly.

Instead, a lot of weight fell onto an official IOC report on each of the bids.

All three cities - Vancouver, Pyeongchang and Salzburg - won positive reviews, but many observers felt that the reports gave Vancouver the strongest endorsement.

Canadian Olympic boosters are describing this as a victory for all Canadians.

But the cheering is, perhaps, a little quieter in Toronto.

That city lost its bid for the 2008 summer Olympics and was considering a new bid for the 2012 games.

But Vancouver's win is widely seen as eliminating Toronto's chances of hosting an Olympics at any point in the near future.


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