Vancouver – In just one month, in what may be one of the most memorable moments of the Torino 2006 Closing Ceremony, Canada’s first quadriplegic Mayor will accept, on behalf of all Canadians, the Olympic flag. The City of Vancouver and the 2010 Organizing Committee today revealed the innovative behind-the-scenes work being done in support of Mayor Sam Sullivan’s historic role on the world stage.
The flag ceremony protocol begins with Torino Mayor Sergio Chiamparino returning the Olympic flag to Dr. Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Dr. Rogge will then present Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan, the only elected Canadian official in the Closing Ceremony, with the flag, symbolizing the official beginning of Vancouver’s responsibility to host the world in 2010.
Mayor Sullivan is then required by IOC tradition to wave the flag back and forth eight times. Because of the physical challenges to Mayor Sullivan inherent in his participation, a number of innovative accommodations are underway, including a custom-made holster on the Mayor’s motorized wheelchair and the installation by the Torino Organizing Committee of a customized elevator within the stage.
“I’m greatly honoured to represent Vancouver and Canada in Torino,” said Mayor Sullivan. “We are thrilled to be the host of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games and invite the world to our beautiful and progressive city and country.”
”Mayor Sullivan will be acting on behalf of all Canadians, and I can’t think of a better person to represent this nation’s spirit, determination and commitment to ability over disability, said Vancouver 2010 CEO John Furlong.”
City of Vancouver engineers collaborated with engineers from two local disability organizations – Tetra Society and Neil Squire Society – to design and manufacture a unique device attachable to the Mayor’s motorized wheelchair, thus enabling him to receive the oversized official flag (six square metres) and custom built pole (approximately five metres).
Upon the Mayor’s return to Vancouver the Oslo flag will be put on public display in Vancouver City Hall and a replica flag will be raised outside City Hall on Tuesday, February 28. The flag raising event is just one of the activities planned in Vancouver to celebrate the flag handover. For more details, visit www.vancouver.ca/celebrationweek.
Background on IOC flag protocol
The Winter Olympic flag ceremony tradition started at the Closing Ceremony of the Oslo 1952 Winter Games. At those Games, the Mayor of Oslo presented a silk flag to the IOC as a souvenir of the city. The IOC immediately established a new tradition that the Oslo IOC flag would be raised at all Olympic Winter Games. In 1984 at the Los Angeles Summer Games, the flag ceremony protocol was slightly modified to include a handover of the flag at Closing Ceremonies.
The Olympic flag features five interlocking rings in blue, yellow, black, green, and red on a white background. The six colours of the flag, including the white background, represent all continents of the world, united by Olympism, while the six colours are those that appear on all the national flags of the world at the present time. The flag was originally designed in 1913 by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games.
VANOC is responsible for the planning, organizing, financing and staging of the XXI Olympic Winter Games and the X Paralympic Winter Games in 2010. The 2010 Olympic Winter Games will be staged in Vancouver and Whistler from February 12 to 28, 2010. Whistler will host the Paralympic Winter Games from March 12 to 21, 2010.
VANOC gratefully acknowledges the Government of Canada through Foreign Affairs Canada, Canadian Tourism Commission, Tourism BC, Tourism Vancouver, and Tourism Whistler for their financial support of the VANOC segment of the Closing Ceremony.