Sports-mad Australians did not let the heat of summer spoil the spirit of the winter Olympics. Together with the Canadian Tourism Commission, and with a little help from Michael Bublé, the Consulate General in Sydney created some buzz and excitement in anticipation of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, putting Canada front and centre in the Australian psyche.
“The Olympic Games in Vancouver has provided us with a great opportunity to get the message out to Australians that Canada is a high tech, environmentally sustainable nation open for international business and tourism.” - Consul General Tom MacDonald
Over the past 4 years, the Consulate has been working hard with the Canadian Tourism Commission in preparation for the Games and their “let the Games begin” launch which was hosted by Consul General Tom MacDonald.
Australia’s media coverage of the Games in Vancouver was extensive. January was the month of “Canada” on Foxtel (co-host Australian broadcaster of the Games with Nine Network Australia) featuring Canadian and winter-themed films and TV. Michael Bublé was enlisted as official Olympic Ambassador for Foxtel and even agreed to provide commentary for the Canada vs. U.S.A. hockey game on Feb 22. Given the large fan-base Bublé enjoys down under, ice hockey was bound to increase in popularity amongst Australians.
Consul General Tom MacDonald hosted a “let the Games begin” event at the Official Residence, with television screens displaying visuals from Foxtel, Nine Network, Government of Canada (Invest-in-Canada), VANOC, Paralympic Games, as well as Meet the Mascots animation. Guests were also invited to try their hand at Nintendo Wii featuring Sonic the Hedgehog on the Vancouver Olympics course
Unique ice sculptures were created for the event by Mammouth Ice using Canadian technology. This icy touch brought a piece of “Canada” to those expatriots who may have been feeling slightly homesick during a balmy summer evening in Sydney. Wine offerings from British Columbia and Ontario provided another taste of Canada. Whistler Export beer also made its first appearance in Australia at the reception, donated by an Australian who has acquired the B. C. brewery and now plans to export back to his beer-loving Australian compatriots.
Canadian Australian connections are vibrant in these Games. Dale Begg-Smith, a Canadian now skiing for Australia, picked up silver in the Moguls, behind Alexandre Bilodeau, Canada’s first gold medalist on home soil. Also, the Sea to Sky highway, linking Vancouver to Whistler, involved an Australian partnership with Macquarie Infrastructure and the Vancouver 2010’s spectacular Opening Ceremony had visionary Australian producers at the helm.
The event brought in some 170 guests from business, government, academia, media and tourism sharing the Olympic excitement. Kim Williams, CEO of Foxtel, Jeffrey Browne, Executive Director Nine Network and Donna Campbell, Managing Director, Canadian Tourism Commission joined the launch to kick off the Australian Olympic coverage. Leila McKinnon (Nine Network’s Olympic announcer), Hugh Millikin (Canadian Captain of the Australian curling team), Mike Pike (Canadian footballer, now playing Australian Rules Football for the Sydney Swans), the Hon. Tony Stewart (New South Wales Parliamentary Secretary for Sport), and the Hon. John Aquilina (Leader of the House in the New South Wales Parliament).
This launch event provided a unique opportunity to highlight and further strengthen Canada and Australia as key partners in business, government, sport, and tourism.