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Olympic Games Vancouver: The Effects On Economics And Infrastructure

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During the recent decades, it became usual to see how countries and/or cities battle internationally for the right to host a major sport event – FIFA Soccer Games, The Olympic Games, Rugby Cup and so on. It is noticed that the hosting country is seeking to showcase itself to the world and, at the same time, to benefit from economic and social aspects. The financial figures involved in such events are huge. According to KPMG Report (2016), ‘The Business of Sport’, USD 80 billion were invested in sports events in 2014 globally.

The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games that took place in Vancouver, Canada in February and March of 2010, relating its ability to increase the country or city’s Economy, Infrastructure, Tourism and Social impact on community.

Vancouver Games were very controversial since the beginning of its planning, 10 years before the start date. The government had to support the expenditure of USD 1,9 billion, mainly using the games ability to leave a legacy to the province of British Columbia. In 2002, a Plebiscite took place in order to understand the taxpayer’s will and 64% of them gave the go ahead for the events execution (Hiller and Wanner, 2011).

In order to make clear that the investment would bring long life benefits, the Organizing Committee stated it on the Event’s Mission: “To touch the soul of the nation and inspire the world by creating and delivering an extraordinary Olympic and Paralympic experience with lasting legacies”.

Another legacy expected by the hosting country was the union of the people. The design of the Game’s Branding used one of the most iconic symbols of the first nations: a man stone figure, made up with 5 pieces of different colors.

After the games were finished, the current Prime Minister Stephen Harper stated that the games were a turning point for Canada: “Mark my words, some day historians will look back at Canada’s growth strengths in the 21st century and they will say that all began, on the West coast, with the best Winter Olympic Games the world has ever seen” (Official Report, 2010).

Long term effects on Vancouver economy

Economic effect

GDP and the Public Economy

Measuring the economic growth of a country is done by examining its Gross Domestic Product and comparing that to the previous years.

To analyze the degree of the impact the winter Olympics had on the GDP of 2010 is something complicated because it is hard to narrow the factors that affect GDP to only those related to the Olympic Games. It would also be unprecise to narrow the economic impact of the games to only the economic growth during the year the event occurred. Given that the preparations for the games started several years beforehand and they had a big impact on investment in the country. It should also be noted that economic growth derived from the games can also impact the economy years after the event because of the infrastructure and tourism derived from it which keep creating revenue.

Aside from the previously noted difficulties to measure the economic impact of the games, the global economic context that engulfed the games must be kept in mind. The world suffered an economic recession two years prior to the games in 2008, which affected the housing market in the United States and this, affected the confidence of investors in Canada as well as all over the wold. This considerably impacted the economy of the country. All these factors have to be accounted for when examining numbers of GDP in order to determine whether the overall impact of the games was positive or negative.

The data utilized in this paper comes from the Olympic Games Impact (OGI) Study for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Post-Games Report provided by the UBC (OGI-UBC Research Team, 2013) to help draw conclusions on the economic impact of the games.

Reflected in the graphs 3 things were observed:

  1. The impact of the recession is notable in the year 2009, where, there is a notable drop in the nation’s and the province’s Real GDP.
  2. There is a considerable growth of Real GDP from the year 2009 to the year 2010.
  3. The Canadian economy had a rising economy from the year 2007 to the year 2011 when we exclude the impact of the economic recession.

From this information it is concluded that the economy of Canada was in a healthy situation before and after the Winter Olympic games (excluding the economic recession impact).

The Games injected 600 million CAD to the Vancouver economy and according to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers the games generated as much as 1.05 billion CAD in real GDP (International Olympic Committee, 2011).

This information confirms that the 2010 Winter Olympic games were an economic success for the Nation’s economy.

Training & Job Creation

According to our research, the Olympic 2010 affected the employment rate in British Columbia in a significant positive way, which is the creation of new jobs and opportunities that help to diminish some of the global economic meltdown in 2009 (International Olympic Committee, 2013). Between 2003 and 2010, this sport event generated about 50,000 jobs across Canada including 21,690 jobs in the year of the event (OGI-UBC Research Team, 2013). In addition, nearly 1,500 businesses were established as a significant economic growth which was stimulated by the Games (OGI-UBC Research Team, 2013). This is also potential resources of job opportunities in not only British Columbia but also other provinces in Canada.

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Furthermore, job opportunities were also generated for disadvantaged citizens and Aboriginal people. Canada government and British Columbia authority have offered a wide range of training programs for local people and the majority of these are targeted to disadvantaged groups such as disable citizens, Aboriginal people, and women (International Olympic Committee, 2013). To be more detailed, we will explain some typical examples of training programs as below:

  • The initiative is the Vancouver 2010 Fabrication (FAB) Shop. This workshop aimed to provide carpentry skills and work experiences for disadvantaged youngers, single parents or new immigrants (A Sustainability Journey, 2010).
  • Secondly, on the Vancouver Olympic Village area, there was an agreement of 100 construction job opportunities with training which would be given to citizens within the local community (A Sustainability Journey, 2010).

With the above information, the dramatic increase in the number of job opportunities resulting from the Olympic 2010 has contributed to lessen the unemployment rate during the global recession in 2009 and even until now.

Infrastructure Development

Transport Infrastructure

In order to support meet the requirements of the Olympic 2010, British Columbia authority and Canadian government needed to make a lot of improvement and addition to the infrastructure system including transportation and sport facilities in British Columbia.

As part of the preparation for this sport event, Translink is Metro Vancouver’s Transit agency, which launched several types of transport including a 400 – passenger Seabus ferry, fuel – efficient Skytrain Cars and diesel – electric hybrid buses due to the increasing demand of the Games (Benefits of Olympic Winter Games Vancouver 2010 Still Felt in Local Communities Today, 2018). According to our research, there were two important upgrades which were the Canada Line and the Sea to Sky Highway (International Olympic Committee, 2013). To be more detailed, while the Canada Line launched to make the commuting between the Vancouver ‘s airport and downtown areas easier, the Sea to Sky Highway was built to help people who travel from Vancouver to Whistler faster and safer (International Olympic Committee, 2013).

These projects are still being used until today and they created long – term positive impacts on life and businesses in British Canada. The Canada Line helps local citizens and visitors to travel from airport to downtown Vancouver. In addition, these new transport modes also contributed to the increase of local mass transit use by more than 50% during and after the Games (Benefits of Olympic Winter Games Vancouver 2010 Still Felt in Local Communities Today, 2018).

Sport Venues & Facilities

There are a variety of sport venues and facilities which were built and expanded to support for the Game and these are still in use until now with several different purposes including organization of many special events, public use, training center for young generation of athletes.

The largest construction which we need to mention is the expansion of the Vancouver Convention Centre which hosted the Main Media Centre of the Olympic (OGI-UBC Research Team, 2013). The expanding of the centre is also due to the growing popularity for tourism and conferences of more than 10,000 broadcasters and journalists from around the world for the Games in 2010. This expansion project was costed more than CAD 800 million with the funding partnership including the Province of British Columbia, the Government of Canada, Tourism Vancouver and revenues of business activities in the new centre (Opens New Vancouver Convention Centre, 2009). Today, the Vancouver Convention is used as a facility of more than 500 events each year and it also generated more businesses, opportunities for tourism industry and economic growth. In addition to the Vancouver Convention Centre, there are a wide range of sport venues which are still being used for events, public purposes until today, which includes:

  • Vancouver Olympic Centre: It is now called Hillcrest Centre which uses for a variety of sports events including an ice rink, a curling club, indoor and outdoor swimming pools. It is also utilized for a public gathering space today (Benefits of Olympic Winter Games Vancouver 2010 Still Felt in Local Communities Today, 2018).
  • Whistler Sliding Centre: In 2010, It was used as the main venue for luge, skeleton and bobsleigh events. Nowadays, it becomes the training centre for a variety of sports and also opens for public to encourage people to try these sports in the controlled and safe environment (Benefits of Olympic Winter Games Vancouver 2010 Still Felt in Local Communities Today, 2018).

These sport venues above are typical examples of the long – term impacts of infrastructure of the Olympic 2010 until now. After the Games, these facilities are still being in uses and they offer a wide range of benefits for both local people and government. To be more detailed, they support to connect local community through sports and generate more revenues, profits and new businesses opportunities, especially in hospitality field.

Cultural & Social effect

The Olympic Games had hugely influenced on local community’s daily life and culture, which encouraged a spirit of inclusion in the society. The event improved accessibility around the entire Great Vancouver such as wider sidewalks and pedestrian ramps (International Olympic Committee, 2011). It had a great impact on volunteerism which more than 75,000 people were volunteer during the Games. Databases of information from volunteers continued to link to other organizations through British Columbia to promote volunteer opportunities (International Olympic Committee, 2011). Also, Games helped around 400 youth to be educated and participate on activities that explained about the Olympics Games, sports in general, culture and education, and the importance of the practice of sports to pursue the spirit of peace, friendship, and respect to each other (International Olympic Committee, 2011).

The Organizing Committee for the Olympic 2010 ran several programs to promote arts and bring a positive legacy to the community after the Olympic Games (International Olympic Committee, 2011). These educational programs bring incentives to young people to be inspired in life. Such as Innovations programs that created culture projects in 60 communities; Catalyst program, which helped more than 220 arts which supports organizational and business activities; Explorations programs that help more than 16,000 students from different communities to participate in summer activities focusing on arts, sport, and recreation. This program was available for students with no access to normal summer activities in their communities (International Olympic Committee, 2011).

Moreover, Vancouver was the first city to create an innovative not-for-profit organization responsible for creating tangible community legacies throughout British Columbia, called 2010 Legacies Now. The organization leveraged the Games to invest in programs and communities by creating and maintaining social activities for the further years after the Olympics (2010 Legacies Now, n.d.). This non-for-profit organization launched the LIFT Philanthropy approach in 2011 that helps other organizations to become more sustainable, measurable and lasting social impact. Nowadays, LIFT is sharing expertise and knowledge in delivering social, economic and community legacies that acquired on the Olympic Games in 2010. It is said that LIFT is the evolution of the 2010 legacy impact and it is estimated that this venture model will continue to benefit sectors of sports, arts, literacy, and volunteerism in communities across Canada (LIFT Philanthropy Partners, n.d.).

Tourism & Hospitality effect

The Vancouver 2010 Games were used to increase the awareness about Canada to other countries. It was generated about CAD 1 billion in value of Advertising equivalency in 2010 by the Canadian Tourism Commission’s media and public relations activities (International Olympic Committee, 2011).

The Games had a good performance indicator but only have contributed with a slight increase in rates for Tourism and Hospitality in Vancouver during the event year, even if it was the promise of a large boost in Tourism for the city (Giovannetti, 2014). The Games cost around USD 6 billion to the province of British Columbia; the tourism did not have a positive impact to contribute to all expectations from the government. During the Games, around 547,357 visitors stayed in the Vancouver area but by the end of March, the number of visitors had decreased back to normal (Giovannetti, 2014).

Also, it is important to notice that, British and Australian visitors during the year game were double those of 2009, and German, British and Australian visitors generated an extra CAD 314 million in tourism revenue (International Olympic Committee, 2011).

According to OGI-UBC Research Team (2013), the hospitality sector did not have a great impact after the Olympic Games. Accommodations occupancy rate increase in the region of the event at the time the Games were running in 2010 if compared to other major cities in Canada such as Toronto and Calgary, because of the number of tourists that were in the city to watch the Games. Although it was observed an increase in the hospitality rate on the Great Vancouver and Toronto for 2010, a decrease rate in the following year happened. On the other hand, in Calgary, it was the opposite, a dip in 2010 followed by an increase in 2011 (OGI-UBC Research Team, 2013). This analysis suggests that the Games did not have a great impact on Vancouver hospitality after the event had finished and the accommodation rate did not change significantly (OGI-UBC Research Team, 2013).


  1. 2010 Legacies Now (n.d.). Home. Retrieved from
  2. A Sustainability Journey (2010, February 11). Retrieved from
  3. Benefits of Olympic Winter Games Vancouver 2010 Still Felt in Local Communities Today. (2018, March 02). Retrieved from
  4. Giovannetti J. (2014, Feb 09). BC’s Tourism boost from 2010 Games was negligible, study shows. Retrieved from
  5. International Olympic Committee. (2011, May). Final Report of the IOC Coordination Commission. Retrieved from
  6. International Olympic Committee (2013). Final Report of The IOC Coordination Commission (XXI Winter Games, Vancouver 2010). Retrieved from International Olympic Committee website:
  7. International Olympic Committee. (2011). FACTSHEET Vancouver Facts and figures. Retrieved from
  8. Opens New Vancouver Convention Centre (2009, April 03). Retrieved from
  9. LIFT Philanthropy Partners (n.d.). 2010 Winter games legacies continue to produce lasting benefits for Canada. Retrieved from
  10. The OGI-UBC Research Team. (2013, Oct 23). Olympic Games Impact (OGI) Study for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Retrieved from

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Olympic Games Vancouver: The Effects On Economics And Infrastructure. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 3, 2023, from
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