Richmond helps set London stage

Giant Olympic Rings are unveiled at Heathrow, the host airport of the 2012 Summer Games. The airport has relied on Vancouver Airport Authority
Giant Olympic Rings are unveiled at Heathrow, the host airport of the 2012 Summer Games. The airport has relied on Vancouver Airport Authority's experience during the 2010 Games.
— image credit: The Department for Culture Media and Sport/UK Government photo via Flickr

Spending at least $17.4 billion to set the stage for a global sports competition is made easier by an army of experts—especially when their expertise is earned first-hand.

Joining the ranks of those assisting London in hosting the 2012 Summer Olympic Games—July 27 to Aug. 12—is Richmond, an official venue city of the 2010 Winter Games.

Richmond's experience starts at Vancouver International Airport, where athletes, support staff and spectators from around the world began arriving on Sea Island in January 2010. Throughout the Games period the airport handled over 2.6 million passengers and 2.7 million bags on 29,000 flights.

Vancouver Airport Authority officials have shared their knowledge and lessons learned from 2010 with Heathrow Airport in London, which will host the majority of the millions of Olympics-bound travellers.

City of Richmond officials have had ongoing information exchanges with London since 2007, according to city spokesperson Ted Townsend. The city has hosted delegations from London's organizing committee and government  "numerous" times, particularly during the 2010 Games.

"They were very interested in our plans, as a big portion of their plans centered on using the Games to fuel redevelopment of parts of their city."

Even the oval's architect, Cannon Design, lent its expertise to London by providing preliminary venue design and planning services.

Building the venue for long track speed skating—and being a host city—initially spurred $2 billion in new investment in Richmond, according to Mayor Malcolm Brodie. Since the Games, interest in development near the oval and Canada Line has ballooned, with more than $4 billion in new projects now under construction or in the planning stages, said Brodie.

The oval will continue to serve as a shining example for other host cities of the Olympics beyond 2012. The International Olympic Committee commissioned a video that will be shown in London to future host cities, featuring a handful of Olympic venues that demonstrate legacies produced by the Olympics.

The oval is among them. A crew from London visited Richmond in the spring to film the venue and interviews with city officials.

At a London 2012 send-off event Tuesday, city and oval officials proudly boasted that 36 Team Canada athletes have participated in camps or ongoing training at the oval, including Canada's women's soccer team, wheelchair rugby squad and other Paralympic athletes. Dozens more London 2012 competitors have visited the oval for competitions for specific training.

Said Townsend: "The oval has now come to be recognized not just as one of the most outstanding venues and legacies of the 2010 Games, but of all Games."

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