INTERNATIONAL Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge insists the legacy left by Vancouver 2010 will be positive but urged Sochi 2014 to avoid making the same mistakes.
LESSONS TO BE LEARNT: Jacques Rogge says Vancouver’s legacy is positive but insists Sochi must not make the same mistakes (Getty Images)
The curtain came down on Vancouver 2010 as Canada’s ice hockey golden boy Sidney Crosby downed fierce rivals the USA to clinch their 14th gold of the Games – the fitting end to an Olympics which two weeks ago was fraught with difficulties.
Just hours before the opening ceremony there was the tragic death of Georgian luge slider Nodar Kumaritashvili while Vanoc were criticised for numerous other issues, ranging from cancelled tickets at Cypress Mountain to an unsightly metal chain fence encircling the Olympic flame.
Even the inclement weather was pinned on John Furlong and his Vanoc team.
Criticism from abroad, most notably from Great Britain, was vehement and while Rogge believes the critics overstepped the line, he hinted he saw things in Vancouver he does not want to see in Sochi.
“I do not need to repeat that the Games started in very difficult conditions with the death of Nodar Kumaritashvili and the Olympic movement will not forget that,” said Rogge.
“But it would unfair not to judge the athletes and the performance of Vanoc on their own merit.
“There were some teething pains early on but Vanoc corrected them and have done well from then on.
“I think the organisers of Sochi will want to copy the good things from Vancouver and ensure that the teething problems are not repeated.
“The organisers have learned a lot and I will look forward to the Games will the fundamentals they have there.
“I think the Games will leave a positive legacy. First a human legacy and people have told me that Canadians have been united in the streets, then there is an urban legacy.
“The problems in Vancouver haven’t been created by the Olympic Games and therefore I believe that the legacy will be positive.”
In capturing men’s ice hockey gold, Canada took their gold medal tally to 14, a record for a Winter Olympic host nation, as their $110m Own the Podium initiative bore fruit in Vancouver.
And while Own the Podium has accrued as many negative headlines as positive, Rogge believes Canada’s willingness to embrace the Games was key to Vanoc’s successful reversal of fortunes.
“The home team’s performance is of paramount importance because it creates a buzz and an atmosphere. I think there perception of the Games changed when Alexandre Bilodeau won their first gold on home soil,” he added.
“They have put in place their ‘Own the Podium’ programme and when you look at it, you have to say that is a success and that without it there potentially wouldn’t be any gold medals.
“Lillehammer [ in 1994] embraced the Games but that is a small city of 20,000 where as Vancouver has more than one million residents and they created a unique and great atmosphere and that is something that I will reflect in my speech during the closing ceremony.”
In capturing 14 gold medals, Canada doubled the number of victories acquired in Turin four years ago but Rogge doesn’t believe there was been a shift in the balance of power at the Winter Olympics.
“I don’t see many medal trends here in Vancouver. If you compare 2002 and 2006 we still have the powerhouses of winter sports, USA, Canada, Germany and Korea dominating,” said Rogge.
“Clearly the Russian Federation are not happy with their results but at the Winter Games we don’t see the trend we have in the Summer Games.
“In Athens we saw the rise of Asia and that was confirmed by China topping the medal table in Beijing but there has been no such rise here.”
And while Canada’s dramatic last-gasp ice hockey victory over the USA will be the lasting image for many in Vancouver, Rogge admitted that his lasting image lies elsewhere.
“There have been many high moments for me and watching Kim Yu-Na dominate like she did touched me in away that I haven’t been touched since Torvill and Dean in Sarajevo,” he added.