By Tariq Virani (SMBA '11)
This past weekend I was fortunate to travel back to my hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada to take in some of the 2010 Winter Olympics. I can easily say that this was the greatest experience in my life. The energy and pride that permeated the streets of Vancouver will be something that I will never forget. However, this was not just Canadian pride. Countries such as the USA, Germany, Russia, Norway, and Sweden (to mention a few), were very well-represented in the mosaic that was the Vancouver Games.
Prior to the 2010 Games, there was much debate in Vancouver with regard to the economic feasibility and justifications for the event. In every establishment I visited during the Games, the benefits for local business were clear. Owners, managers, and employees were working feverishly to handle the large amount of business, but as I was told many times: “they wouldn’t have it any other way.” In addition to the economic impacts of the Games, I spoke with many initial opponents of the Olympics coming to Vancouver who changed their mind once they saw how the games brought joy to their friends, family, and country.
As an avid sports fan, I was always excited about the Olympics coming to Vancouver, but as the games approached I became increasingly excited about the exposure it would bring to my hometown. With many sold-out venues and victory ceremonies, as well as great Olympic related entertainment around the city, I am convinced that these games were a success. With the culmination of the games being the Gold Medal Hockey game between Canada and the USA, I do not think the IOC or VANOC could have asked for more. The hundreds of thousands of people that were on the streets of downtown Vancouver after that game can definitely attest to that.