It’s that time again – the Olympic Games in Beijing. Canada’s outstanding 2008 Olympic Team has worked tremendously hard and has prepared for years for these Games taking place from August 08 to August 24, in Beijing, China. It is an opportunity for each of us to demonstrate our support and pride for this fine group of athletes and to reflect on what Canada represents to the rest of the world.
The Canadian Olympic Team will be composed of 331 athletes supported by 295 coaches, support staff, and officials. The athlete total represents a significant increase over the 265 athletes who competed in Athens, Greece, four years ago. Approximately 10,700 athletes from 204 countries are expected to compete in the 2008 Olympics. The Games are composed of 302 events in 35 disciplines. The events will be held at 31 venues in and around Beijing. Competitions outside of Beijing will also take place in Qingdao, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Qinhuangdao with equestrian events taking place in Hong Kong.
The Olympic Games will be followed by the 13th Paralympic Summer Games from September 06 to September 17, 2008. Approximately 143 athletes along with 120 coaches, support staff, and other officials will represent Canada at the Games. The Paralympic Games will attract over 4,000 athletes from 140 countries who will compete in 471 events in 10 sports.
Our unique Olympic Team features several Olympic veterans who have competed at multiple Games in the past. Most notably, Ian Millar, of Perth, Ontario, will be marking his world record-tying ninth Olympic Games in Beijing (he competed in the 2004, 2000, 1996, 1992, 1988, 1984, 1976, 1972 Games).
We are also very fortunate to have several athletes from Dufferin-Caledon competing in the Games and we wish them all the very best. These athletes, as well as the other athletes on the Olympic Team are an enormous source of pride for all Canadians and serve as important role models for our youth. The Games are the culmination of years of hard work, determination, training, and perseverance. Through sport, our Government is committed to promoting these very ideals and has done so in recent initiatives. In 2008-09, the Government of Canada’s investment in the Canadian sport system will grow to an all-time high of $166 million to support participation and excellence in sport from the playground to the podium. This amount includes the Budget 2008 commitment of $24 million over two years and an additional $24 million per year of ongoing support to Canada’s summer sport athletes through the Road to Excellence program.
I encourage you and your family to take in the events from home and to give support to our Canadian stars. We wish all of them the best of luck as they compete against the best in the world and we know they will make us very proud!