Celebrating Canada's Olympic Participation
Publication
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 22 Jun 2000, p. 76-84
Description
Speaker
Letheren, Carol Anne, Speaker
Media Type
Text
Item Type
Speeches
Description
The Olympic Village; the ways in which it is a very special place. International Olympic Day and what it means to the worldwide movement. Some details about the Canadian Olympic Association, including budget and responsibilities. The trip to Sydney. An Olympic Champion and what that means. What has kept the Games alive and given it the energy, drive and the passion to withstand wars, political intervention and drugs. The Olympic Games as the most televised event in the world in terms of cumulative viewing audience. The spectacle and festival that are the Games. The logistics of taking the trip to Sydney. Promoting and furthering the Olympic movement. Using the Web. The goals for the next period of time of the Canadian Olympic Association. Bringing the Olympic Games to Toronto.
Date of Original
22 Jun 2000
Subject(s)
Language of Item
English
Copyright Statement
The speeches are free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.
Contact
Empire Club of Canada
Email:info@empireclub.org
Website:
Agency street/mail address:

Fairmont Royal York Hotel

100 Front Street West, Floor H

Toronto, ON, M5J 1E3

Full Text
Carol Anne Letheren
Chief Executive Officer and Secretary General, Canadian Olympic Association
CELEBRATING CANADA'S OLYMPIC PARTICIPATION
Chairman: Catherine Steele
President, The Empire Club of Canada

Head Table Guests

David Agnew, Executive Director, Governance Program, Digital 4Sight and Director, The Empire Club of Canada; The Reverend Stephanie Douglas, Assistant Curate, St. Paul's Bloor Street; Francesca Reinhardt, 17-year-old Graduate, Winner of the English Essay Award for attaining a mark of 100%, University of Toronto Schools; Christine Strauss, President, General Mills Canada Inc.; Mark William Couper, President and CEO, NuLife Vitamins; Desai Williams, Three-time Olympic Athlete in Track and Field and Winner of the Bronze Medal in 1984; MGen Bruce J. Legge, CMM, CM, KStJ, ED, CD, QC, Partner, Legge & Legge, Past President, The Empire Club of Canada and Honorary Life Chairman, The Royal Commonwealth Society, Toronto Branch; Ann Curran, Managing Director, Corporate Development International Inc., Partner, Lewis Companies Inc. and Second Vice-President, The Empire Club of Canada; Donna Villaverde, Olympic Athlete, Spokesperson for Taekwondo and National Champion in Finweight; Noreen Clement, Chair, The Royal Commonwealth Society, Toronto Branch and Adult Educator,

Burnhamthorpe College; and Gordon J. Fenney, Deputy Chairman, Royal Bank Financial Group.

Introduction by Catherine Steele

It is my privilege to introduce to you now our guest speaker, Carol Anne Letheren, Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Olympic Association.

This September Canadian athletes will represent their county at the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. In just 84 days, the Games will begin and athletes who have spent years training will put their training to the test in the hopes of achieving personal bests to take home an Olympic medal.

Those of us who watch Olympic coverage only see the athletes' performance at show time. We don't see the years of training, sweat and sacrifice that they put in to fulfill their dream, to stand on the medal podium, watch the Canadian flag being raised and hear our national anthem.

With Canada Day coming next week, today's luncheon gives us a chance to reflect upon what it means to be Canadian. The recent success of the Molson Canadian ad with ""Joe the Canadian"" extolling the virtues of being Canadian demonstrates the quiet pride that we have in being Canadian.

In addition to showcasing and celebrating Canada's outstanding athletes and the culmination of their hopes and dreams, the Olympics give us a chance to openly celebrate and cheer those who make us proud. I can still remember screaming at my TV back in 1996 when Donovan Bailey ran his big race. As if my screaming would make him run faster.

As Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Olympic Association, our guest today knows all about the highs and the lows of Olympic competition.

She is the Past President of the Canadian Olympic Association, Past President of the Pan American Gymnastics Association and was Chef de Mission for Canada's Olympic Team to Seoul in 1988. She is a member of the International Olympic Committee, a member of the co-ordinating commission for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City and a member of the site evaluation commission for the 2004 Olympic Games.

She has held positions as Associate Professor and Lecturer at the University of Toronto and York University and also holds an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Toronto.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Carol Anne Letheren to The Empire Club of Canada.

Thank you very much for those remarks and the introduction, in particular for the remarks about the Olympic Games and the Olympic movement. It was wonderful to sit and hear them, and hear how other people feel about the Games and the movement. I had the privilege about an hour before this lunch started to spend some time in another room in this hotel with some very talented young people. You heard some of our Olympic athletes introduced, and I'm delighted that they are here today. But there is another group of young people who have won essay contests. As I was upstairs speaking to them and they were being presented with their certificates, I found myself in a situation in which I often find myself at the Olympic Games-shedding the odd tear. When the first paragraph or the last paragraph of each of their essays was being read out I was astounded by the quality, the insight and the excellence of them. I'm going to ask all of our Olympic athletes who are in the audience to stand together with all of the young people who were so justifiably awarded earlier today. It's wonderful to have so many talented young people in our midst.

At the Olympic Games there is something called the Olympic Village, the secure zone in which the Olympic athletes, their coaches and their officials live. The village is a very special place for them and not many other people have the opportunity to go inside it. But they certainly stand outside it. They stand outside the village in droves. They come by foot, they come by subway, however they can get there. They are there to talk to, touch and smile at the young people who are in that village and about to compete for their country. I don't think they care whether those young people can run fast, throw heavy objects, jump high or hold their breath for a long time under water. That is not why they're standing outside the village. They're standing there because those young people set phenomenal goals. They steadfastly move toward those goals and never veer from them. Often those goals are goals that are totally unattainable. But nevertheless, they set them. And often they achieve their goals under what I would consider very adverse circumstances. They are people who make the human spirit soar. What they stand for is beyond and above their phenomenal talent as athletes. The young people in this essay contest have also pursued a dream. They have persevered but also become vulnerable. They have submitted their essays to be judged by somebody else. That is also very courageous. So I salute them all, and I think it's wonderful that we're here today to honour all of them.

Tomorrow is International Olympic Day-the day the Olympic movement is celebrated worldwide. We're delighted that you selected us to be part of your Empire Club luncheon. It is also the day when all of the Olympic movement is celebrated-not just the Olympic Games, but the values, the principles, the philosophies behind which that movement was founded.

Let me tell you a little bit about the Canadian Olympic Association. Our job includes sending a team to the Olympic Games and another to the Olympic Winter Games. We also send a team to the Pan-American Games. We have responsibility for promoting and furthering the Olympic movement in this country and I'm going to share with you some of the things we're currently doing. It's also our responsibility to contribute to the development of athletes. I'm going to talk a little bit about where we're headed in that area. It's also our job to select and name any potential host cities for the Olympic, Olympic Winter or Pan-American Games, and put them forward together with our city.

We have a broad spectrum of responsibilities and we work on a four-year budget. Currently that budget is around $70 million. One of the things we are extremely proud of is that over the years we have moved to being independent in terms of our revenue generation. The federal government is a sponsor of the Canadian Olympic Association but contributes less than 3 per cent of our total revenue. You were introduced to some very fine people here today who represent part of that revenue generation-the sponsors of the Canadian Olympic Association and the Canadian Olympic Team. We're delighted that they have become part of the Olympic family. We're delighted to be an independent organisation and the largest private-sector contributor to sports in this country, providing approximately $30 million over the four years in direct grants to sport associations, to athletes and to coaches. And we'd love to do more. We represent something like 10 per cent of the funding. We're just anxious to do more and more.

Let me tell you a little bit about our team going to Sydney. We're now at 322 athletes and they will be accompanied by roughly 200 officials. By officials we mean coaches and medical people-people who can make a difference to the performance of the athletes. That doesn't mean people who sit in the stands and watch.

We don't send athletes just for the sake of having a team there. We are one of the larger national Olympic Committees in the world, and so we feel it's part of our responsibility to send a well-qualified and prepared team.

When I hear the words ""Olympic champion,"" I think of something very different from ""world champion."" There's something more powerful behind the title ""Olympic champion."" Perhaps it's because the Olympics is an event that creates a lot more circumstances for an athlete to deal with. It is a multi-sport games. The athletes are living in an Olympic village with 9,999 other people, approximately. And they're living with them for a month. I can tell you that that is a distraction. I'm sure they'd all vouch for that.

That's a wonderful part about the Olympic Games. I believe it's one of the things that have kept the Olympic Games alive and given it the energy, the drive and the passion to withstand wars, political intervention and drugs. From my perspective it's because there are 10,000 young people from all around the world who live together for a period of one month and who cherish that. I bet to a person they'll tell you that that was an experience of a lifetime. So it's both a distraction and a wonderful asset.

It's also the most televised event in the world in terms of cumulative viewing audience. There isn't an athlete who isn't on that world stage in whatever they're doing. They're putting themselves in front of the world.

The Olympic Games is a spectacle. It's a festival as well as a sporting event. The athletes are part of something that lasts for a very long time. They're not flying in for a competition and flying out. They're generally staying for a minimum of four to five days, and some of them stay the full 16 days to support both their own event but also the events of others who are competing at the Games. You have to perform at ""the moment."" You have one chance.

The athletes in our Sydney team range in age from 15 to over 30. This also creates an interesting experience for the athletes.

And then there's the logistics because we're going to be in another hemisphere when we're in Sydney; we're going to be many time zones away. That creates an interesting logistic for everybody, not just for the athletes.

Our first cargo shipment is off to Australia June 26 and we're sending a total of more than 50 skids weighing approximately 1,000 pounds each. You can say, ""What on earth are you putting in those skids?"" Well, we've got clothing, we've got popcorn, we've got playing cards. We've got the gambit in terms of setting up the athlete lounge where the athletes spend their free time. We're also sending a full medical clinic. The range of what we take to an Olympic Games and the logistics behind it is remarkable. And that doesn't even take into account the fact that in addition to transporting the athletes we transport horses over, we send yachts, we send sculls, we send javelins... everything goes.

So it is a huge logistics exercise. Our team is still qualifying. The team will be announced sometime in mid-August.

I mentioned earlier that it's our job to promote and further the Olympic movement. We have for some time now been involved in what we will call loosely Olympic education. It's a very important component of what we do. It's very near and dear to my heart. It's an education programme that goes into the elementary schools. We've been doing it every Games since 1988. We've done it in some `off' years as well. It's a programme that's delivered to 15,000 elementary schools. At one point we stopped and questioned whether or not we were getting to the teachers. We did a little bit of research just prior to the Nagano Games. We sent out a teaser card to the schools and said that for the first 200 schools to write back (and it had to be a teacher writing back) we would provide an athlete to speak to their assembly or their school whichever they chose. We had 5,000 responses within three weeks. So it did help us understand that the education programme was getting used.

We're using the Web more extensively than we ever have. I'm proud to say that the Australian Olympic Committee has just approached us to say that it would love to find a way to work with us, do a joint programme, and share the cost. So we know our programme is also getting out there internationally.

Sydney, we will be there in September. It will be the second time the Games have been held in Australia. They were in Melbourne in 1956. There will be roughly 15,000 individuals in the Olympic village, give or take a few. And there will be 15,000 media or more at these Olympic Games.

The Olympic village can provide meals for anywhere between five and six thousand people at one sitting. It's open 24 hours a day. So whenever you hear stories coming out of Sydney, you know the kind of preparation and detail that is being put into these Games. And the Australians will do a phenomenal job.

The Canadian Olympic Association representing all of the Olympic and Pan-American sports have voted that its goals for the next period of time are as follows. In 2002 at the Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City it wants Canada to rank third in overall medals. That's a jump for us. Remember however in Nagano, we did beat the U.S. In 2003 at the Pan-American Games in the Dominican Republic we want to achieve medals in 60 per cent of entries. The Pan-American Games is different (from a medal count we'll always be in the top three) so we have to find a different way of challenging ourselves. In 2004 in the Athens Olympic Games we'd like to rank eighth. That's a jump. Then in 2008, we will rank, we hope, fourth in medals. And in 2010, in the Olympic Winter Games, we're aiming for first place in the medals.

Our Association believes that's 'do-able.' And like the athletes who set goals, it knows those are really high goals. It is banking on incredible support, and incredible collaboration. We know that can't happen if we can't get the federal government and all of the associations at one table, with all the money in the middle.

And now, before I finish, I want to come back to Toronto, because this is a very important year for this city. But 2001 is even more important. We've got a lot to do to bring the Olympic Games to this city. Apart from business opportunities, there are lots of social opportunities that the Games bring to a city. I think Calgary still thinks they have the Winter Games next time around. Any time you go there, it is still alive with what that dream has left them with.

And so it's going to be up to us to demonstrate how good we can be in a ton of areas. From city planners, to architects, to engineers, to social planners, to people who really think about what the Olympic movement really stands for, to all of the athletes and coaches and people in the sports bodies who know what it means to have excellent venues. Just imagine if in 2008 the world comes here to our waterfront and as a city we are able to celebrate the best of humanity. Even if it's for only 16 days, it will live with us forever. So good luck Toronto, and good luck to all of you.

Thank you very much.

The appreciation of the meeting was expressed by Ann Curran, Managing Director, Corporate Development International Inc., Partner, Lewis Companies Inc. and Second Vice-President, The Empire Club of Canada.

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Celebrating Canada's Olympic Participation


The Olympic Village; the ways in which it is a very special place. International Olympic Day and what it means to the worldwide movement. Some details about the Canadian Olympic Association, including budget and responsibilities. The trip to Sydney. An Olympic Champion and what that means. What has kept the Games alive and given it the energy, drive and the passion to withstand wars, political intervention and drugs. The Olympic Games as the most televised event in the world in terms of cumulative viewing audience. The spectacle and festival that are the Games. The logistics of taking the trip to Sydney. Promoting and furthering the Olympic movement. Using the Web. The goals for the next period of time of the Canadian Olympic Association. Bringing the Olympic Games to Toronto.