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EXCERPT: When Vancouver won the Olympic bid

Ten years ago today, Vancouver won the bid to host the 2010 Olympics. Bob Mackin, who wrote today's cover story on the Games' lasting legacies, was in GM Place when the announcement was made. Here is an excerpt from his book, Red Mittens & Red Ink: The Vancouver Olympics.

Everyone had a lucky loonie in their pocket, thanks to Jack Poole, who was himself paid a dollar-a-year as the bid chairman. The lucky loonie tradition was born in Salt Lake where the $1 coin was hidden under centre ice of the E Center by ice maker Dan Craig. It was dug up and given to Gretzky after Canada won the men's hockey gold.

Salzburg's presentation featured an opera singer as its emcee and two-time Olympic champion skier Hermann Meier was the designated sports legend.The Koreans emphasized the ability of sports to unite, dangling the notion that perhaps North and South Korea could be one country someday if the Olympics were awarded to PyeongChang.

The Vancouver presentation included a subtle reminder that the city sits in the Pacific time zone of North America, just above the U.S. northwest border. NBC had already agreed to pay $2.2 billion for the rights to televise the 2010 and 2012 Games in the U.S. and its corporate parent, General Electric, pledged at least $160 million to become a global IOC sponsor.

"It was the Americas' turn," said Paul Henderson, the International Sailing Federation president from Toronto and one of three Canadian members of the IOC precluded from voting in the 2010 host election. "NBC wanted Vancouver."

John Furlong delivered the speech of his life, in his passionate, Irish lilt, revealing images of the Olympic rings floating in False Creek, a ring of fire around the outer perimeter of B.C. Place's roof, lit rings on the Burrard and Lions Gate bridges and on a Whistler mountainside. The Olympic torch relay would begin in the far north and cover 15,000 kilometres from sea-to-sea-to-sea. The gold medal hockey game would take place in B.C. Place. It would be the biggest hockey game in history, in more ways than one.

Back on Canada's west coast, the doors opened at GM Place at 6:30 a.m. Veteran CBC Olympics sportscaster Steve Armitage and Nagano 1998 silver medal-winning hockey player Nancy Drolet warmed up (and woke up) the crowd. Grenoble 1968 gold medal giant slalom skier Nancy Greene Raine, Sapporo 1972 silver medal skater Karen Magnussen, Nagano 1998 gold medal snowboarder Ross Rebagliati and Sydney 2000 gold medal wrestler Daniel Igali drew the loudest cheers during the parade of athletes.

Julia Murray, the daughter of late Steve Podborski teammate Dave Murray, and Simon Fraser University sprinter Justin Kripps were the lesser-knowns in the back, with hopes and dreams for 2010.

In Prague, the IOC members were faced with a new, automated voting system that resembled a television remote control device.

"Maybe someone was going to make a mistake on these, with the wrong button," said John Mills, who co-founded the bid.

PyeongChang won the first ballot, with 51 of the 107 votes. Vancouver was second with 40, but Salzburg was dropped with just 16. On to the second round. Reporters swarmed Greene Raine after a rumour spread on the Internet that PyeongChang would be announced the winner.

Finally, as the thousands stood silently watching the CBC broadcast inside the arena in Vancouver, outside among Whistler Village's hotels and cafes, and across Canada, it was time. A young girl brought Rogge the envelope on a pillow.

Rogge opened the envelope, removed the card and briefly paused. To the Koreans and Canadians in Prague and elsewhere, the awkward moment of silence felt like minutes. Their hearts were beating. Not with pride, but anxiety.

The Canadian bid team members wore black suits, with white shirts and red and white striped ties. Furlong's nervous row mates were COC president Michael Chambers, Poole, Prime Minister Jean Chretien and the two Campbells, B.C. Premier Gordon and Vancouver Mayor Larry.

Rogge held the card and briefly paused. It was 8:41 a.m. on the west coast of Canada. Greene Raine stood up near the front row in GM Place, turned around, faced the crowd and showed the fingers on her right hand were crossed for good luck. Of all the athletes in Vancouver or Prague, perhaps nobody wanted the Games in B.C. more than her. Not only was she the province's most famous winter Olympian, but her husband Al Raine helped develop B.C.'s ski resort development policy in the mid-1970s and headed the Whistler Resort Association in 1981.

"The International Olympic Committee has the honour of announcing that the 21st Olympic Winter Games in 2010 are awarded to the city of. . .

Rogge paused, ever so briefly, knowing that the decision would transform a faraway city. ". . . Vancouver."


"You hear him read the announcement, and you look over at the Koreans and they weren't standing and cheering," Mills said. "It takes a moment to register. I guess he did say Vancouver! It was pandemonium that broke out. Everyone was congratulating everyone. There was a period of five minutes of joyousness."

After the commotion, the IOC disclosed how close the race was. Vancouver had 56 votes. PyeongChang 53. The headline could have been "B.C. beats Samsung." The South Korean bid was bankrolled by the aggressive construction, shipbuilding and electronics conglomerate which boasted more than $100 billion of assets.

Were the three Russians the difference for Vancouver? What about the Africans and South Americans? Did any IOC members push the wrong button? We will never know.

Indeed, it was a second Canada Day. The Canadian delegation rented a restaurant in Prague for a victory party and Canadians traveling in the Czech capital showed up to share the moment. Even a touring Canadian inline hockey team that coincidentally beat a South Korean team 15-1 at a tournament.

"We heard O Canada tonight, we sang it to ourselves at the party, what we all want to do is hear O Canada when we compete on home ice and home snow in 2010 and if we have plans in hopes of doing that, we have to get started now," Mills said. "I think there's a time the city ought to celebrate this and the nation ought to celebrate the work that's been accomplished, then there will be a new task to undertake."

Instead of a $34 million, two-year project to win the majority of votes from a group of 119 people, Vancouver now had a seven-year task to raise more than $1 billion and host the world for 17 days.

North Vancouver-based journalist Bob Mackin has reported for local, regional, national and international media outlets since he began as a journalist in 1990.

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