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Vancouver bring Winter Games back to Canada in 2010
( 2003-07-03 09:22) (Agencies)

The Canadian city of Vancouver beat off the challenges of South Korea's Pyeongchang and Salzburg of Austria to win the right to stage the 2010 Winter Olympics on Wednesday.

The President of the International Olympic Committe Jacques Rogge (R) opens the envelope with the winning bid for the 2010 Winter Olympics, during the announcement ceremony in Prague, July 2, 2003.

Vancouver, always the favorite, won by taking a narrow majority in the second round of voting by International Olympic Committee (IOC) members against Pyeongchang after Salzburg was surprisingly eliminated in the first round.

The relatively unknown Asian candidate had been widely expected to place third in the opening ballot but took Vancouver surpringly close, losing by just three votes -- 56 to Vancouver and 53 to the Koreans.

The Korean candidate led the first round with 51 votes to 40 for Vancouver and just 16 for Salzburg.

The Vancouver delegation at Prague's Hilton Hotel where the IOC were in session erupted in cheering and hooting as IOC president Jacques Rogge announced the result of the vote.

Canadian prime minister Jean Chretien, a member of the Vancouver delegation, said: "I'm sure that the 2010 Games will be extremely exciting but there was a lot of uncertainty about the thing.

"There were rumors coming that we were doing well and then not well and one that they had already announced South Korea had won. It's terribly nerve racking but it's the thrill of being in it."

Vancouver will bring the Winter Games to Canada for only the second time and the first since 1988 when Calgary staged the event. Canada also staged one Summer Games -- in Montreal in 1976.

It will be the 21st Winter Games to be held and the sixth in North America.


The British Columbian port city won over IOC members with the beauty of its location between mountains and ocean, using a "Sea to Sky" slogan, as well as for its tried and tested facilities.

The mountain events of the Games are to be staged at the ski resort of Whistler, some two hours away from the city by road, a distance many had seen as a disadvantage for the Vancouver bid.

A crowd of as many as 10,000 who had gathered at an indoor arena in downtown Vancouver cheered wildly for several minutes when the vote result was announced. Fireworks went off inside the building, where many of the ice hockey events will be held. A television monitor displayed a big sign reading "Yes!"

The IOC's decision was made public at about 08:45 am local time (Pacific) in Vancouver and some in the crowd had camped out overnight to attend the two-hour event that included speeches, an aboriginal prayer ceremony and a live broadcast from Prague.

The gathering had the feel of an international sporting event, with many in the audience waving Canadian flags and white towels. One sign in the crowd read "Waiting since 1988" a reference to the last time Canada hosted a Winter Olympics, in Calgary, Alberta.

There was also a smaller ceremony in Whistler.


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