Olympics get $500,000 from P.E.I.
Vancouver Olympics mascots skate with
Charlottetown schoolchildren on Wednesday. (CBC)
Prince Edward Island is putting half a million dollars towards the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.
The contribution will allow the province to participate in a number of Olympic events, including a Prince Edward Island day to promote its culture and heritage.
Premier Robert Ghiz and P.E.I. Olympian Kara Grant joined Quatchi, Miga and Sumi, the Vancouver Olympics mascots, for a skate with Charlottetown school children Tuesday to make the announcement.
"Three billion people watching the opening ceremonies and billions more watching it throughout the week. It's going to be a good opportunity for Canada to showcase itself and also for Prince Edward Island," Ghiz said.
Most other provinces have already signed on as contributing partners, which allows them to showcase themselves and participate in what's being called the Cultural Olympiad.
Grant called the chance to play a part in the Games "a wonderful opportunity here that doesn't come around very often. It's something that I certainly am very excited about, that I hope to be a part of in some way."
The Olympic torch will be on P.E.I. Nov. 21 and will be carried 320 kilometers over land and water in a relay involving 250 torchbearers.
P.E.I. Olympian Kara Grant says hosting the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver will serve as inspiration for Island children to become more involved in physical activity.
Grant was at a news conference in Charlottetown Tuesday where the provincial government announced it will contribute $500,000 directly to the Canadian team at the Games and is set to showcase the region’s rich cultural heritage to the world.
The modern pentathlete, who competed at the Olympic Games during the summers of 2004 and 2008, said one of the biggest highlights of her career was competing at the 1999 Pan-American Games in Winnipeg.
The chance to compete in front of a home crowd was a dream come true for her and she feels Island children are going to be pumped about having the Canada Games on P.E.I. this summer and the Olympic Games in Vancouver next winter.
“I’ve competed in dozens of countries around the world and that moment of standing on the podium, getting my bronze medal in Winnipeg is still one of the highlights of my
career,” Grant said in an interview with The Guardian.
“The fact that I was on home soil was a big part of that.”
And, it will be exciting for the kids watching at home, drinking in all the excitement of a country cheering on its own athletes on home turf.
“We have a great opportunity to promote sport, promote physical activity. We have a problem across Canada and particularly in the Maritimes (of) obesity. We have a real need to educate people to get people to be more active.”
P.E.I.’s contribution to the Olympic Games falls under VANOC’s (Vancouver Olympic Committee) contributing province/territory program. It enables P.E.I. to participate in the following:
* Organize a Prince Edward Island Day at the 2010 Games to promote the province;
* Participate in the Cultural Olympiad, which will include opportunities for Island artists;
* Encourage aboriginal participation in the Games and preceding events;
* Access VANOC promotional materials;
* Use the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games and Own the Podium 2010 logos;
* Promote educational and volunteer opportunities relating to sport and culture and encourage healthy lifestyles;
* Participate in the historic torch relay for the Vancouver 2010 Games.
Premier Robert Ghiz said a portion of the $500,000 contribution is in-kind and it’s spread out over two years. VANOC has negotiated or is in talks with every province and territory to become a member of the contributing province/territory program.
“It’s going to be an opportunity for us to really do two things — promote our province at the Canada Games . . . and make sure our athletes are properly funded so that we’ll be able to see the best possible showing,” Ghiz said.
“Most provinces are now onside and this is something we want to make sure we’re contributing to the future of Prince Edward Island and Canada.”
Grant said that without contributions like government’s on Tuesday she would not have been able to afford to compete in two Olympic Games.
Taleeb Noormohamed, director of corporate strategy and partner relations for VANOC, said with more than three billion television viewers, 50,000 journalists and hundreds of thousands of visitors pouring in a year from now, P.E.I. will easily recoup its investment.
“Prince Edward Island was very, very clear about its desires about sharing the Island’s culture, cultural communities and its history, heritage and support for athletes,’’ Noormohamed said following the news conference.
But it’s the exposure the kids on P.E.I. will be getting by watching the Games that matters most to Grant.
“So many of these kids will go on to compete in Canada Games and Olympic Games.”
Torch relay:The 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games torch relay comes to Prince Edward Island Nov. 21, 2009:
* The Olympic torch begins 106 days prior to the Games;
* The torch will cover 45,000 kilometres across land, sea and air in Canada;
* The torch will go through 26 different communities on P.E.I.;
* A total of 250 Islanders will get a chance to carry the torch.