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  • VANOC Tells Sochi to Integrate Construction with Planning


    Dan Doyle said VANOC finished our venues early and we could have had some more efficiencies between the operations and capital works if our planning had been more in line.” (VANOC)
    (ATR) The head of construction for Vancouver 2010 said he told his Sochi 2014 counterparts to better integrate venue construction with operational planning.

    “Some of our operational services lagged far behind,” admitted VANOC executive vice-president for venue construction Dan Doyle in Sochi on June 10.

    “We finished our venues early and we could have had some more efficiencies between the operations and capital works if our planning had been more in line.”

    Doyle said he counseled Sochi 2014’s builders to “finish them early, test them, for sure you’ll find something to fix.”

    “Their plans are good, their approach is good,” Doyle said. “One of the tests you look for if you’re an old construction person is what kind of equipment they have working on it. They have top-notch equipment and it’s all doing good work.

    “The quality is wonderful, they’re going to get all that stuff done.”

    Doyle said he advised Sochi 2014 to plan the ice surfaces for the hockey, skating and curling arenas at the earliest stages and include the corresponding international sport federations at every step of the process.

    Doyle is now chairman of BC Hydro, the provincial power utility where VANOC deputy CEO Dave Cobb began May 25 as CEO. Cobb was unable to attend the Sochi meetings because of his new job.

    Doyle said he was aware of Sochi’s construction of new power plants to service the venues and road and rail system, but did not get a tour.

    “They have a deficit of power, I’m sure they’ll find a way of fixing that. This is a big country with a lot of engineers.”

    Bill Cooper, VANOC’s commercial rights director, said he advised Sochi 2014 counterparts in the marketing and legal departments to educate advertising agencies in Russia about the limits on ambush marketing early. He also said there is a need to strike a balance between Olympic rights held by the organizing committee and the marketing programs of national sport federations and athletes. VANOC set the tone for its rights protection in 2005 when it threatened to sue Imperial Oil over a promotion involving the 2006 men’s Olympic hockey team that it sponsored.

    Competitor Petro-Canada was an official VANOC sponsor.

    “In the early days people talked about us being heavy-handed and at times we struggled with that reputation because we didn’t believe it to be the case,” Cooper said. “But in the end it may have helped us. In the end we had very few (legal) cases, it
    Construction work at Vancouver’s External Cauldron. (Getty Images)
    was a reputation, educational process.”

    Cooper spoke in sessions about a wide range of topics, from enacting the clean venue policy to measures to combat counterfeit goods. He said government partners in Canada aggressively used their association with the Games to further public policy initiatives relating to the environment and active living.

    “Some Russian agencies are pressuring the (Sochi) organizing committee to come out ahead with some ideas for them,” said Cooper, who is joining a marketing agency headed by VANOC sponsorship sales and marketing vice-president Andrea Shaw.

    Transportation vice-president Irene Kerr said a key learning was having good people in place who could adapt and solve problems quickly. The Vancouver 2010 charter bus system was riddled with early problems.

    “It’s the equivalent of turning on a brand new public transit system, there
    are going to be glitches,” she said. “We did such a great job of responding, recovering and putting fixes in place. Don’t expect it to be perfect on day one, it won’t be. Sticking to success is having a good recovery plan.”

    Kerr said Sochi will be different because of the proximity of athletes’ villages to venues, which means less reliance on buses.

    In Vancouver and Whistler, departing athletes leaving were processed at the villages to prevent congestion at Vancouver International Airport. She said Sochi is already planning to expand the process to other client groups, such as the Olympic family hotels and media.

    “The folks from Sochi spent a lot of time in Vancouver really observing, taking in the experience,” she said. “They came back and identified all the things that worked well.”

    Torch relays director Jim Richards recounted the Vancouver 2010 Olympic torch relay, the longest in Olympic history through the world’s second largest country. He said he would be available to offer further advice as Sochi 2014 plans come together for Russia, the world’s biggest country. The big lesson learned in Canada was the communities that “took ownership” of the torch relay as it went from coast-to-coast-to-coast.

    Richards said his next project may involve working on an even bigger tour. Wheelchair athlete Rick Hansen is planning to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his Man in Motion world tour by returning to many of the countries he wheeled through from 1985 to 1987.

    Hansen carried the Olympic flame into B.C. Place Stadium on Feb. 12 and appeared in the March 12 Paralympic opening ceremony.

    With reporting from Bob Mackin in Vancouver.

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