Vancouver Games will see balanced budget: organizers

VANCOUVER Sun Mar 21, 2010 10:41pm EDT

Gordon Campbell, the Premier of British Columbia (L), waves a Canadian flag during the closing ceremony of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, February 28, 2010. REUTERS/Jim Young

Gordon Campbell, the Premier of British Columbia (L), waves a Canadian flag during the closing ceremony of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, February 28, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Young

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VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Organizers of the Vancouver Winter Olympics and Paralympics, which ended on Sunday, are confident of avoiding a budget deficit when the final bills are paid.

"We think we're sitting in a pretty good spot and will have a balanced budget when we're done," Dave Cobb, executive vice president of the Vancouver Organizing Committee, said before the Paralympics closing ceremony in Whistler.

Cobb acknowledged keeping the C$1.7 billion ($1.67 billion) operating budget balanced would require using financial aid promised by the International Olympic Committee after the IOC was unable to get as many worldwide sponsors as expected.

"We do expect to use some of it, probably the majority of it," Cobb told a news conference.

VANOC and the IOC have never disclosed the value of financial aid promised but it was widely reported to be C$22 million. Organizers said it would be six to eight months before the final numbers were calculated.

Among the bills still to be worked out is how much money VANOC will have to compensate Intrawest Corp, owners of the Whistler Ski resort, for business it lost by hosting the Alpine and sliding sport venues.

The C$1.7 billion operating budget covered both the Olympics and Paralympics, but did not include C$580 million in venue construction or C$900 million security budget -- both of which were government funded.

PARALYMPICS PRAISED

The president of the International Paralympic Committee praised Vancouver organizers handling of the Games for athletes with physical disabilities in sports such as para-skiing and ice sledge hockey.

The Vancouver Paralympics sold 230,000 tickets, a record for a Winter Games, and viewership of live broadcasts over the IPC's website surpassed that of the 2008 Beijing Summer Paralympics, Philip Craven said.

"They have been great Games," Craven said.

The Olympics, which ended on February 28, were also praised as a success despite early weather problems and death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, who was killed in a training accident in Whistler hours before the Games began.

VANOC Chief Executive John Furlong was scheduled to attend Kumaritashvili's funeral on Tuesday at the invitation of the luger's father.

"It's the right thing to do," said Furlong, who had to miss most of the Paralympic closing ceremony to make the trip.

(Reporting Allan Dowd, Editing Peter Rutherford)

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