While Vancouverites are taking a mandatory hiatus from many of their recreation centres during the Olympics, they may take pride in the knowledge that those facilities are being used by the world’s best athletes.

Access to nearly two-dozen community centres and parks will be limited or closed leading up to and during the Games, in some cases because of their proximity to venues.

Britannia, Killarney and Trout Lake ice rinks are already closed to let Olympic athletes practice.

Aaron Jasper, chair of the Park Board, said residents should see the temporary changes as an opportunity, not an inconvenience. “We have a lot to be proud of as a city ... and not often do we get to revel in that and share who we are,” Jasper said.

“So parking is a bit of a challenge and for a few weeks access to the rink is not there. But (you get to) mingle with people from around the world and take advantage of all the public events and free venues.”

Communities around the province are providing Olympic and Paralympic teams with training venues for the 2010 Games.

Japan’s speedskating team arrived in Abbotsford yesterday to start its training camp, and the public is invited to watch the team skate until Feb. 3.

The Russian skating team will be offering a training clinic for Abbotsford’s skating club and Kelowna’s midget girls’ hockey team gets to play against the Swedish Olympic women’s team.

Mary McNeil, minister of state for the Olympics, said this is a great chance for British Columbians to get “up close and personal with the best athletes in the world.”