Vancouver Games says broke even in end

Vancouver: Organizers of the Vancouver Winter Olympics said on Friday the Games ended without any debt, despite headwinds from the global recession as the western Canadian city geared up for the big event.

The final operating budget for the Games in February was C$1.88 billion ($1.86 billion), and included an unspecified financial lift from the International Olympic Committee to help organizers keep their pledge to not run a deficit.

The IOC’s aid, aimed at offsetting the impact of the global economic downturn, allowed the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) to avoid making operational cuts that organizers said would have hurt the Games.

“Our goal was always, no matter what, we were going to deliver a balanced budget here today ... We were able to realize the goal we had,” VANOC Chief Executive John Furlong told reporters.

The IOC asked local officials not to release the exact amount of the assistance.

The final operating budget was higher than the C$1.76 billion figure VANOC had cited in preparing for the Games, and it said the increase reflected some costs that were pushed up because of the tougher economy.

The operating budget does not include the C$900 million tab for security or the C$580 million cost of venue construction, both of which were government-funded.

Furlong acknowledged that past Olympics have also said they ended with balanced budgets, or even small profits, but he said VANOC wanted to wait until all the bills were paid before releasing its final accounting.

VANOC said it also met its goals of making the Vancouver Games the most environmentally sustainable Olympics, and of attaining high ticket sales. Over 97 percent of the 1.54 million tickets available were sold, it said.

The organizing committee published its budget the same day the provincial government released a study that said hosting the Games gave the Vancouver area an economic boost of more than C$2 billion.

However, an expensive problem from the Games remains unresolved: the C$1 billion athletes village in downtown Vancouver, which was not directly controlled by VANOC.

The village’s private developer was put into receivership last month, handing the project over to the city, which is owed more than C$700 million for bailing out the developer in 2008.

Plans had called for the facility to be sold off as luxury condominiums after the Games, but that has failed to pan out, giving parts of the complex near the city center a ghost town feel.

Bureau Report

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