What Was the Benefit for Vancouver of Hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics?
When Vancouver hosted the 2010 Olympic Winter games, it was much more than the biggest party ever held in the province of British Columbia.
Canadians from coast-to-coast came together to celebrate the joy of a record haul of gold medals for Canada's athletes. Infrastructure projects and social change improved the lives of ordinary Canadians in many ways, leaving a lasting legacy.
The Olympics Changed the Face of Vancouver
In order to get ready for the Olympics, cities must invest in new projects that will handle the influx of visitors arriving from around the globe. The Vancouver Winter Olympics was no different. A wide variety of public projects were approved to get ready for the party in British Columbia. These projects would change the face of the city, upgrading important infrastructure that would accommodate future growth in the Greater Vancouver Area.
The Sea-to-Sky section of Highway 99 was one of the biggest projects undertaken to support the Vancouver area. This portion of the highway received a significant upgrade that would handle a greater volume of traffic expected with the arrival of the Olympics. Prior to this upgrade, the Sea-to-Sky Highway was notorious for being a difficult area to navigate en route to Whistler.
The Whistler Olympic Village was one of the epicentres of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Already a popular ski resort town, the addition of the village and television exposure boosted Whistler further into a must-visit tourist destination for skiers and nature lovers from around the world.
Public transit projects tend to have a positive effect for regular Canadians. The Canada Line Rapid Transit system extended the capacity of Vancouver’s transit system, including a line that quickly takes commuters from the airport to downtown Vancouver.
Prior to the Olympics, Vancouver did not have a large venue that could easily host an event for thousands of attendees. In order to prepare for all the athletic delegates arriving into Canada for the 2010 games, the Vancouver Convention Centre was created. It continues to serve as an important meeting place for big events and industry conferences.
How much did Vancouver 2010 cost to the taxpayer?
Perhaps most impressive was the reported efficiency of all these projects. Often, in order to prepare for the Olympics, federal, provincial, and municipal governments have to allocate significant amounts of taxpayer money to these projects.
However, for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, only one additional taxpayer dollar was spent for every $12 invested by federal and provincial groups. As such, the infrastructure investments and the other fantastic benefits created by the Olympics were accomplished at a relatively small cost for regular Canadian citizens.
The Creation of Own the Podium Program
Perhaps the most successful athletic program ever implemented by the nation, Canada created the Own the Podium organization as a direct result of Vancouver hosting the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
Prior to this program, Canada was the only nation in the world to host two Olympics without earning a single gold medal. Canadian officials wanted to make sure that the failures of the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal and the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary did not repeat in the Vancouver Winter Olympics medal count for Canada.
While the promise to finish with the most medals was unfulfilled, Canada ended up setting a record by collecting 14 gold medals. This was the greatest number of golds collected by any nation at the time, breaking the record of 13 by Norway in 2002 and the Soviet Union in 1976. During the Winter Paralympics, Canadian athletes earned 19 medals, including 10 golds, meeting the expected performance levels set by the program.
Many Canadian gold medalists credited the Own the Podium program for their breakthrough at the top of their sport. Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics highlights would finish with a Sidney Crosby overtime winning goal to lift Canada to the gold medal in Olympic hockey, a storybook ending for the entire nation.
Paralympians Create Greater Respect for People With Disabilities
Unfortunately, people with disabilities tend to be among the groups of people who disproportionately suffer from unemployment. When Canadian Paralympians were spotlighted during the Vancouver Games, the visibility gained among the mainstream media lead to a measurable improvement for the disabled population.
Polls performed prior to and after the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games revealed that people were much more willing to hire disabled applicants after they witnessed the struggles and successes of Canadian Paralympic athletes. This type of positive change in public attitudes towards a frequently marginalized group of people serves as one of the few unambiguously great advances that the Olympics helped to manifest.
These changes improve the job landscape for disabled Canadians while improving infrastructure that provides a similar level of accessibility that non-disabled Canadians enjoy for businesses and public places.
Feels Good to be Canadian
A nation that’s typically reserved got to celebrate for two consecutive weeks, watching their athletes perform at a top-level against the best that the world had to offer. Canadians burst with pride throughout the Olympics, reaching a fever pitch when Crosby sealed the final gold medal.
It’s impossible to measure the impact of good vibes and uncomplicated patriotic joy. Certainly, those who witnessed the 1972 Canada-Russia Summit Series could recognize the rare moment when tens of millions of Canadians pull together to cheer the same cause.
Just like the 1972 Summit Series, the 1992-1993 World Series, and the 2019 NBA Championships, an entire generation was initiated into lifelong fandom of Canadian sports during the 2010 Vancouver winter games.