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Rogge praises Vancouver’s progress

Associated Press

WHISTLER, British Columbia – International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge predicted the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics will be a success, despite the global financial crisis.

Rogge was in western Canada as part of celebrations to mark the one-year countdown to the Games. He said Wednesday at a news conference that everything appears to be on track for the Games, which open one year from today.

“I have been extremely pleased with the progress of the organization,” Rogge said.

“I think everything will go well for the Games.”

Rogge acknowledged the Olympics in general have not been immune to the effects of the global economic crisis

“Very clearly, there has been a focus on keeping costs as low as possible,” Rogge said.

The organizing committee has dipped into its contingency fund to the tune of $40 million to cover rising costs because of the slowing economy.

The city also just approved a new budget that will allow it to borrow $350 million or more to take over building of the athletes’ village after the original lender stopped payment because of cost overruns and a crashing real estate market.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson recently announced taxpayers are “on the hook” for village costs.

Rogge said he’s confident Vancouver can recoup its costs through sales of the village condos. He said a similar approach is being used in London for the 2010 Summer Games.

“We’re very confident the village will be ready in time,” Rogge said.

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