Attending events at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games is not like your regular day at the hockey arena or baseball diamond. Often you will be spending time outdoors in the changeable weather of Vancouver and Whistler and security is more like an airport than anything else. This article is both a summary of advice given in the Vancouver 2010 Official Spectator Guide and a Vancouver resident’s personal suggestions. It will help you to get the most out of your visit.
At all venues, both in the city and on the mountains, you may be outside, without cover, for extended periods of time. You must layer your clothing. Wear good socks, preferably wool or a good synthetic, something that will not get cold if it gets wet. Wear a light long sleeve shirt under a heavier warm shirt or sweater and be sure to wear a waterproof jacket. Bring mittens or gloves, a scarf and a toque (beanie, head-warming hat, whatever you want to call it) as most of your heat is lost through your head (thank you Girl Guides). If it is raining, wear waterproof pants and boots if possible. If it is snowing, or you’re on a mountain where it is colder, toss on an extra layer under your waterproof jacket and consider snow pants. You will be walking so make sure that you have good, comfortable, preferably waterproof footwear.
If you get cold particularly easily you may also want to invest in some small pocket warmers. They are little satchets that when shaken up give off heat. You can find them at camping shops, surplus stores and possibly in pharmacies. They are great for warming hands and feet and it’s amazing how much warmer you will feel if those bits are not cold.
There are going to be three lineups for entry to most venues: 1) people with bags, 2) people without, and 3) people with special needs such as wheelchair access. If at all possible do not bring a bag, this will speed up your security check. No one may bring food or drink into the venues (with the exception of sealed, bottled water to mountain venues only), so other than your tickets, Visa card, cash, house keys, phone and a camera you should not need much. The less you have the faster you will get through the lines and into where all the fun is. If you do have to bring a bag aim to keep it under 15×15×30cm (6×6×12″) to keep you in the fast lane. Can’t do without a bigger bag? Please just be patient. Chat with your fellow line-mates about the event you’re going to see or ask if they have been somewhere that they recommend you visit as well.
There is definitely a list of prohibited and restricted items but for the most part the items are common sense. No weapons, no items that could disturb the view of those around you, no large umbrellas or long flag poles, and all signs and banners should be less than 2m x 1m in size. Click the link above for the whole list if you’re interested but generally just try to remember that everyone wants to have a good time.
Shopping, Food and Drinks:
There will be merchandise kiosks at all of the venues so that you too can drape yourself in Vancouver 2010 clothing and there will be places to get food and drink at the venues as well. The most important thing to remember: bring cash and/or your Visa card that you used to pay for your tickets. ATM’s, concessions, and shops within official venues will not accept anything but Visa or Visa debit. Your bank debit card is not considered cash and will not be accepted.
Take transit. Your event ticket gets you onto any Translink transit service free of charge all day.
There is no where to park at the venues and VANOC has worked really hard to get the best transit solutions set up with Translink, the Olympic Bus Network and extra projects (like the Olympic Line) that they can. If you are going to Cypress or Whistler for an event make sure you have your bus ticket ahead of time. Check out the TravelSmart2010 and Translink websites to help you plan your journey. Allow yourself some extra time, there are going to be a lot of excited people trying to get to a lot of exciting venues. Enjoy the ride!
And be prepared to walk. Spectators with disabilities will certainly be aided and accommodated. For the rest of us this is a way to warm up a bit before sitting in a cold venue to watch athletes competing at a ridiculously high level. As above wear good, comfortable shoes or boots, preferably waterproof. This means no heels or flipflops. It’s the Winter Olympics folks!
There will be information booths, lost & found facilities, first aid facilities and the like. Some of the city venues even have bike valet services (no bikes in the venues I’m afraid). There are no ‘in & out’ privileges with your ticket. Once you’re in, you’re in. Double-check that you’re all set before you enter the venue.
Still photography is allowed but no flash photography is permitted at all. It could distract the athletes or performers at crucial moments. To avoid accidently having your flash go test your camera before you leave home. Find the ‘No Flash’ setting and then test it in a dark room to make sure it won’t automatically come on. Then you should be set to take photos of yourself and your family at the Games!
Toilets will be easily accessible within the venues (though do expect lines), however public washrooms are quite limited in Vancouver. Visit the toilet before you leave your home or hotel. Most shops do not have their toilets available for public use but you could buy a cookie or other snack at a coffee shop if you need to. Here are some other suggestions if you find yourself in need: department stores (the higher the floor the quieter the toilet), the Vancouver Public Library, and street-side self-cleaning toilets (there are a few of these in Vancouver).
Have fun! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity in so many ways. We will not have another event like this in Vancouver for a very long time. Nor will you have the chance to celebrate the world’s athletes in quite the same way. Nor the arts. Nor each other! Remember that we all want to have a good time and respect for one another is how we’ll accomplish that and be left with memories to last a lifetime. Smile and the world will be smiling back at you!