By Andrea Iseman
Off-Campus News Editor
Published: December 11, 2008
The Olympic torch relay for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics is expected to hit Toronto Dec. 17 and 18.
“The Olympic flame will be within one hour drive of 90 per cent of the [Canadian] population. Everybody can get close to the flame if they want to,” said Duncan Ross, senior executive advisor of major international events and special projects for the city of Toronto.
The relay will also help bring about a tremendous sense of national pride, Ross said.
“It symbolizes internationalism and that Canada has the capacity to host the world,” said Ross. “The winter Olympics will be watched by billions of people around the world and will give our country the chance to be seen.”
In addition, because the flame is going to be reaching smaller communities that might not get the chance to feel so close to the Olympics, a sense of togetherness will be felt, planners believe.
“If you are a kid growing up in a smaller community and the flame comes through your town, you are connected to the world,” Ross said. “And that is incredibly powerful for people to realize – that this international symbol of stronger, higher, faster is in your time for that very brief and fleeting moment.”
Case Ootes, councillor of ward 29, Toronto-Danforth, said by having the relay pass Toronto landmarks it can increase the city’s presence on an international platform.
“It is all important and all part of the picture that creates publicity as it goes along the route,” he said. “It will probably be on the news every day.”
According to Jim Richards, director of torch relays for the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 games, the relay and ultimately the Olympics is all a part of building a legacy of a better Canada.
“I think that having the Olympics here is really going to raise our spirit for the sport,” said Richards. “It is about creating a legacy of healthier Canadians – a living Olympic if you will. It is about making better choices every day to contribute and to participate.”
The torch will travel from Victoria all the way back to Vancouver, finishing on Feb. 12. Expecting to travel to 1,020 communities nationwide the relay will also stop twice a day for short celebrations along the way.