POSTED: November 20th 2010

Annecy 2018: Keeping the Village at the heart of the Games

Bid ceo Edgar Grospiron and Pernilla Wiberg on the campaign trail to win over the IOC for the French winter Olympics / Annecy 2018
Bid ceo Edgar Grospiron and Pernilla Wiberg on the campaign trail to win over the IOC for the French winter Olympics / Annecy 2018

LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features Communications

TAMPA, Nov 20: Pernilla Wiberg, former Olympic skiing champion who is an ambassador for Annecy 2018, has been thrilled by the understanding reached by the bid team and local community in the bid to bring the winter Games to the French Alps.

Wiberg, in an exclusive interview with along with bid ceo Edgar Grospiron, was reviewing the positive aspects gained from streamlining the original proposal. One key feature is placing the Village at the heart of the activity – in contrast to the recent trend for distancing the snow sport areas from the focal city.

What were the factors at issue with the community – particularly after you had to make changes at the instigation of the IOC?

Wiberg: At first people were narrowly opposed to use of their land and didn’t want it touched. But when we started to talk about the Olympics and the values and what it is really about then they began to think it was a nice idea. It will bring more value to the area afterwards. It is a good example of how people have embraced the bid. It’s nice to see how people can change their views for the Olympics.

Grospiron: In fact with the second concept we fixed the problems that we had with the first plan. The main aim all along was to host great Games and we did need to bring the Olympic Village to the center of the activity which was Chamonix. We will go further in leaving the Plagne du Mon Blanc which is an agricultural area below Chamonix. It will be protected and left as farmland. I think that is why the new bid is much stronger than the first one.

Do you see siting the Village centrally as a major plus?

Wiberg: Having the Village in the middle of Chamonix is amazing because of the legacy. In the Vancouver Games this year the Village was up in Whistler and yet it was outside [the Olympic areas] and after the first week the athletes felt a lack of atmosphere in the Village but it was too far away for them to take the bus and come down.

So this [Annecy project] is very interesting to have the Village in the middle of Chamonix. You can just walk in down there, it is not a big city, but there are lots of cafes and restaurants. It is much more compact.

So this answers a need to contain the size of the Olympics?

Wiberg: Precisely. Annecy has a strong bid because it is still a small city. Many people say that the size of the Olympics now means they need to be in a big city. But I don’t agree. The Winter Olympics can still have this nice kind of cosy feeling. It is important to keep it that way otherwise we are going in the wrong direction.

That would make sense from the point of the view of the officials too, wouldn’t it?

Wiberg: It is a really strong point to sell to the national Olympic committees and everybody. The NOC administration also has to travel and is affected very much.

It’s not far between the two Olympic Villages in Chamonix and Annecy which is always an issue at the winter Olympics. For example, in Vancouver, they had to travel quite a lot back and forth to Whistler and that made the work quite hard for NOC personnel.

Grospiron: Here we have the Villages close together and they are connected with a motorway and a railway - and the train station is a two-minute walk to the Olympic Village.

Other segments of the interview will be upcoming soon.

Keywords · Annecy 2018 · Pernilla Wiberg · Edgar Grospiron · Olympic bidding

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