Only hours to go and the city is in Olympic mode.
Teams have been arriving and as you walk around the city you see more and more athletes in their uniforms. As you might expect, red and blue are the popular colours. Apart from the over 20,000 Van 2010 volunteers in their turquoise uniform everywhere, you have several teams in red, the Coca_Cola reps (some 3,000) in red, CTV in red, while the City of Vancouver Staff is blue, and even the transit drivers have special blue Olympic vests.
The cultural program has been going on since January 22nd and there are lots of special performances and exhibits. Granville Street has a number of special displays and this should be a very popular street during the games. Light shows in Robson Square and close to the Burrard Bridge, started last Friday. The one at Burrard Bridge goes from dusk to dawn. A fireworks, water and laser show will take place each night from February 12th at False Creek. It is very near where I am staying so I will go have a go and take look in the next few days.
As one would expect, lots of signage is now up and security has tightened-up. I heard that they are expecting quite a few protest groups with some already turned back at the boarder.
Many have wondered how Graham would handle stepping down as CMS Executive Director and would he slow down! The Olympic volunteering has been a good transition and certainly kept me doing a lot of running around BC Stadium. It may even have prepared me for my next assignment - President of the IOC.
I can now reveal that, since January 30th, my ceremonies VIP stand-in role has been as Jacques Rogge. Do they know talent when they see it!
For the preliminary dress rehearsals last week, Graham was introduced into the President's box and got to watch the show from there, sitting next to the Governor General (well, at least the stand-in).
On Saturday (February 6th), it was the first full run through with no audience, except for all the cast sitting in the stadium after their performances. At one point I had to move to the main protocol stage, make a very short speech and announce that we need to wait for a further three minutes and, believe it or not, I had to stand still and say nothing for over three minutes. During the pause, those in the seats started the wave, shouted, waved flags, etc. making it difficult to stand "presidentially" - it was a blast. Will this have changed Graham for ever - don't hold your breath!
On Monday (February 8th), it was the second complete rehearsal. The audience (some 25,000) was made up of family and friends of all the cast members and ceremonies volunteers. The cast and volunteers were not able to be in the audience since they were all busy working. It was a way to thank those who have been supporting all of those involved in the ceremonies. I had to do my Jacques Rogge impersonation again. This time they decided to abandon the part where I had to stand still, and instead, I had to read a four minute speech (the length of time Jacques is expected to speak). Perhaps they realized that Graham being quiet again was too much to ask!
Another full dress rehearsal took place on Wednesday (February 10th) and I had to do it all over again. At this rehearsal, all the 2010 volunteers were given the opportunity of getting two tickets and 60,000 spectators were there. Believe it all not, Dr. Chaos did not make an appearance and the rehearsal did not have to be stopped short. I guess I have had my fifteen minutes of fame!
They have added another full rehearsal on Thursday so they can check camera angles and make sure they have everything as perfect as possible.
There are several rumours regarding what is planed for the lighting of the flame. Even though I have been at all the full rehearsals, I have no real idea. Also, with some 85,000 at the dress rehearsals on Monday and Wednesday, it will be remarkable if they keep all the plans for Opening Ceremonies confidential until Friday.
With all the hours I have worked so far, they have given me the day off on Friday. So, I will be able to use my ticket and attend the Opening Ceremony. It will be good to see how it all comes together for the actual show.
As you may realize, I am having a great time.