Vancouver ready for upcoming Winter Games, warm weather and all

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Preparations for next month's Winter Games were well in hand but there was still much work to be done, Vancouver's Olympic organizing committee said on Tuesday.

The committee's CEO John Furlong told a press conference in Vancouver that things were "moving very fast" with the approach of the Winter Olympics and Paralympics and there was a "lot of positive anxiety inside the organization right now".

"Although we have been working on this, in some ways since the mid 90s, we still haven't done anything yet," said the Irishman who came to Canada more than 30 years ago.

"The Games start on the 12th and that's where the world's attention will be, that's we're the focus will be. Although we have been preparing hard and doing our best in getting the venues done and raising the funds, working our way through the logistical challenges and perfecting the systems, it's all about what happens between those dates and that's where our focus is."

Furlong said the overlay work at the six Games venues in Vancouver, Richmond and Whistler was "close to getting completed".

"A lot of the work that's going on is to prepare to make sure that, not only for the venues to look great and feel great, but the atmosphere inside is remarkable. There's been a great deal of effort to ensure that the minute you get on the bus you get the full (Olympic) production. It's all about creating a wonderfully warm, inspired experience."

The Olympic venues include three new buildings and six existing and temporary venues.

"At the time we were trying to make a good impression that we were going to get on with it, that we had done a good job in planning, that we knew where we wanted to put everything and we're ready to go," he said.

"The fact that we did get on with it and we got them built with the budget we had and we got them built early has made an enormous difference to us to be able to navigate what we've been through for the past two years with economy. If we had to deal with venue issues during that same time, it would have been infinitely more challenge than it was."

Furlong said by finishing early it had probably reduced the cost of the construction and the complexity. In addition, Vanoc wanted the Canadian team to have access to the venues so that they were properly tested to the highest standard.

With the unseasonably warm temperatures that had hit Vancouver, the Vanoc head said his team was well prepared and had "anticipated for years" that it could be "confronted with challenges with weather".

On Monday, Cypress Mountain, host venue for the snowboarding and freestyle skiing, was closed for two days following heavy rain and no new snowfall in the past week. The condition of the venue is particularly important to the Chinese team who are expected to dominate the aerial skiing competition.

"We are where we are in the world and that's the way it is. The team that has been working specifically on this has planned to make sure that at Games time we are ready and able to manage for every scenario," Furlong said.

"We could have been faced with the challenge where we had significant challenges at six outdoor venues. We have one. We have the people, the technology and the ability to manage and we're doing it.

"So we are very focused on making sure that (the Cypress) site is beautiful and ready and we're confident that we will get there. It would be nicer if the weather got a little cooler for a bit. But in many cases we are far ahead of where we thought we would be and some of the things we thought we would have to do, we don't have to do."

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