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1980 Lake Placid Olympics Heralded as Model of Sustainability

May 1st, 2007 · No Comments · News

The Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) has hailed the 1980 Winter Olympic Games here in Lake Placid as one of three “Legacies of North American Winter Games“. The report was commissioned to better understand the potential impact of hosting these games in Vancouver.

These reports, separately and combined, show how the host communities of Olympic Winter Games in North America continue to:

  • increase tourism in their regions
  • remind the world of their attractions at subsequent international competition
  • build sports participation
  • be national hubs for recreational and competitive sport
  • help the country’s top athletes achieve their full potential
  • attract major sports companies to locate there
  • encourage local children to excel in sport and other areas of life

Some of the key findings of the Lake Placid Report:

  • In the 2004–05 fiscal year, 25 years after the Lake Placid 1980 Olympic Winter Games, the overall economic impact of the Olympic Regional Development Authority’s (ORDA) operations to the village and surrounding counties was $323.7 million USD.
  • In 2004, an estimated 333,535 non-resident visitors used ORDA facilities. The direct impact of visitor spending on the local economy that year was more than $310 million USD, resulting in 1,056.6 jobs.
  • Almost 90 per cent of the U.S. Olympic Team members at the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games had gone through training in Lake Placid at some time during their sports careers.
  • Lake Placid hosts an average of five World Cups every year, in addition to numerous other competitions.
  • 33 of the 34 medals awarded to the U.S. Olympic Team at the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games were won by athletes who trained in Lake Placid.
  • Lake Placid has had at least one local athlete at every Olympic Winter Games since they began in Chamonix, France, in 1924.
  • U.S. speed skater Eric Heiden set a record in Lake Placid in 1980 at the age of 21 that has yet to be beaten by another individual athlete—five gold medals.
  • “Miracle on Ice”

The Lake Placid report is available in PDF format and makes an interesting read. I believe it to be fairly written and captures many of the positive and negative aspects of the story. And, I would agree with most of the report’s conclusions, but I wouldn’t go so far as to believe that having another Winter Olympic Game will give us any marginal benefit. From a tourism marketer’s perspective, Lake Placid’s brand and legacy is a real asset.

It is really interesting to see how various places prepare for hosting “the Olympics”. I’m particularly impressed with the anti-spitting campaign in Beijing. But I suppose it could be carried too far, emphasis mine:

BEIJING, Jan. 10 (Xinhuanet) — Beijing has vowed to eradicate five boorish behaviors among its citizens this year, including spitting and littering on the street.

For the citizens’ convenience, Beijing will set up trash boxes every 100 meters in the city’s major streets and other public areas and provide handy sanitary bags for people to spit into on buses, taxis and other public facilities.

Most Beijingers said hawking phlegm and throwing wastes onto the pavement were among the five most disgusting habits in a survey among 10,000 citizens last November, according to officials with Beijing office for the promotion of social ethics.

It was also considered rude for pedestrians to run about the road amid heavy traffic, for passengers to create a rowdy scrum while getting on buses and for pet owners to allow their animals to relieve themselves on the streets, the officials said at a meeting on the capital’s ethic building Monday.

The Beijing municipal government will work to eradicate these bad behaviors this year, they said.

“Eradicate” sounds a bit harsh, but it’s probably just a bad translation. The BBC seems almost nostalgic about the potential loss of a “cherished tradition” and can’t see the hidden benefit. What they should have focused on are the “hundreds of uniformed “mucus monitors” (who) will patrol the streets handing out free spitting bags.” It’s all about Job Creation. Someone is going to have to adjust their multiplier formula when calculating the additional jobs and wages generated by this bit of genius.

I’ll quit here before I digress any further.

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