IOC and VANOC officials celebrate with the Official Timekeeper With its Countdown Clock confirming that only three days remained before the Opening Ceremony of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, OMEGA, the Games’ Official Timekeeper, kicked off its Olympic activities with a press conference in front of the clock.
Stephen Urquhart, the president of OMEGA, was joined by IOC President Jacques Rogge, Vancouver Olympic Games Organising Committee President John Furlong and other officials and special guests including swimming legend Alexander Popov.
Stephen Urquhart recalled that he had stood on the same spot exactly three years earlier for the dedication of the clock. He expressed his enthusiasm for the venues in Vancouver and Whistler and reflected that this year’s edition of the Olympic Games is the third to be contested in Canada – all of the timed by OMEGA. Referring to OMEGA’s long relationship with the IOC, he said, “When we extended our agreement through 2020, both OMEGA and the IOC expressed how highly we value this association. The Olympic Games is the most prestigious sporting event in the world and we are very proud to be a part of it.”
Jacques Rogge echoed his sentiments and talked about how the IOC first came to work with OMEGA in 1932. Prior to that date, judges and timekeepers had brought their own stopwatches. “We needed someone who could give us harmonization of timekeeping,” Rogge said, “and we turned to OMEGA. We have trusted them ever since.” Rogge added that the Countdown Clock in every Olympic city plays an essential role. “It is a reminder of exactly when everything must be ready – we will never change the time of the Opening Ceremony of an Olympic Games.”
John Furlong said that he was excited to see the clock counting down the final hours. “We are thrilled and delighted with our partnership with OMEGA. We need perfection and they provide it. It is a certainty that at some point in the days ahead, precise timing will determine the difference between a gold and a silver medal and we know that we can count on OMEGA to deliver the correct result immediately.”
After the ceremony, Presidents Urquhart, Rogge and Furlong posed in an OMEGA bobsleigh with Alexander Popov before crossing Hornby Street to the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver and visiting the OMEGA Lounge on the 14th floor of the hotel where they chatted with OMEGA staff and invited guests.
The Lounge features a scale-model of a bobsleigh run as well as displays of some of OMEGA’s historic sports timekeeping equipment, including some chronograph stopwatches used to time Olympic events and some early versions of the photofinish camera.
OMEGA is responsible for timekeeping, data handling and the display of results for each event at every venue. While no one knows in advance who will top this year’s medal table, one thing is certain: the winners’ outstanding performances will be timed by OMEGA.
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