60 Seconds with Annette Antoniak, President and CEO, BC Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Secretariat

Annette Antoniak heads the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Secretariat, an organization that manages British Columbia’s finances for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. Previously, Antoniak worked for the Pacific National Exhibition as the company’s youngest ever CEO.

BF: What role does environmental sustainability play when constructing new Olympic venues?

AA: Sustainability has been an important component for all 2010 Winter Games venues from the initial planning stages. Some examples include the Whistler Olympic Park, which has an on-site wastewater treatment plant that can be adjusted to accommodate both pre- and post-Games user numbers, while the spectacular wooden roof of the Richmond Oval consists of more than one million board feet of pine beetle-killed timber from British Columbia forests. These are just two examples of how sustainable building practices play a vital role in preparing for the 2010 Winter Games. Once the 2010 Games are over, these venues and others will fulfill a number of important community needs, as well as providing a significant long-term sports legacy.

BF: How do the Olympics affect a host city’s workforce? What kinds of jobs are created, and are they filled by local workers or out-of-area workers?

AA: British Columbia’s construction sector is booming at the moment, and venue construction has been a key contributor to that trend. As various jobs are created, both local and foreign workers are enlisted to fill the positions. By 2010, the Vancouver Organizing Committee alone anticipates having a total workforce of more than 55,000, including 1,400 paid staff, 25,000 volunteers, 3,500 temporary staff, 10,000 contractors, and 15,000 ceremony participants.

BF: What specific industries within a host city are affected by the Olympics?

AA: Tourism is expected to be a major boon for the 2010 Winter Games. With more than 1.6 million tickets available for the Olympic Games and 250,000 tickets for the Paralympic Games, British Columbia expects the world at its doorstep. Local businesses will benefit from the sheer number of people walking the streets, while large firms will benefit from tremendous international exposure.

Profit and Loss Statistics from Past Summer Olympic Games (1976 to 2004)

1976: Montreal, $1 billion loss
1980: Moscow, $5 million loss
1984: Los Angeles, $225 million profit
1988: Seoul, $341.4 million profit
1992: Barcelona, $5 million profit
1996: Atlanta, $10 million profit
2000: Sydney, $1.7 billion profit
2004: Athens, $8.5 to $10 billion loss

Source: The International Olympic Committee and National Olympic Committees


Beijing Olympics: Not Business As Usual

By Peter Torlucci

Businesses in the Beijing metro area will either suspend operations or make drastic emission cuts during the 2008 Summer Olympics, held from August 8 through August 24. This curtailment extends to more than 267 companies in the nearby city of Tangshan, in addition to 40 companies in the port city of Tianjin.

The municipal government ordered these cutbacks in an effort to curb pollution while the world watches the Chinese host city. While being closed, many business owners will suffer losses and workers may be docked pay.

During the Olympics, trucks are forbidden to take their normal routes through Beijing, so supplies may run low for companies in the capital. As of July 1, more than 300,000 polluting trucks have been taken off the road. Additionally, Beijing has halted all work at construction sites as of July 20.

Some good news may come in the fall, however, after the Olympic games conclude. Many property agents expect the Chinese real estate market to see an upswing; it would be a good time to buy property in the Beijing area, as vacancy rates will be high, but rent and sale prices will be low in the months immediately following the Games.

Recently, China has tightened control on its property market to keep down prices and encourage foreign investment. Meanwhile, Chinese people are leaving rural areas and entering cities, creating a larger urban workforce.