Impressive Games guest list to include sport, society, Hollywood A-list

VANCOUVER, B.C. - Not everything that sparkles during next month's Winter Games will be Olympic gold. Some of the Games-time gleam in the city will come from the many, many stars expected to be in town to party.
Published : January 29, 2010

VANCOUVER, B.C. - Not everything that sparkles during next month's Winter Games will be Olympic gold. Some of the Games-time gleam in the city will come from the many, many stars expected to be in town to party.

Olympics offer an almost unmatched gathering of international A-listers from the worlds of sport, society, Hollywood, and business, and Vancouver should be no exception.

"I expect not to sleep at all," says Lainey Lui, known as Lainey Gossip to her fans in the blogosphere.

Lui is getting ready, which included a recent reconnaissance call to journalists who covered the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Australia.

"It was basically a 16-day party. I totally expect that to be the case in Vacouver," she says.

The rumour mill is rife with chatter about who will grace the rain-soaked streets of the West Coast city next month.

Omega, the official timekeeper of the Games, has confirmed a star-studded lineup of celebrity ambassadors, including supermodel Cindy Crawford and U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps, who won eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The Swiss watchmaker will also have astronaut Buzz Aldrin in town, and a company spokesperson has hinted that more of their celebrity endorsers could show up in the spotlight. George Clooney and Nicole Kidman are signed with Omega, as well as Formula One driver Michael Schumacher, Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi and golfer Sergio Garcia.

It is a sporting event, after all, and celebrity athletes will abound in and out of official competition.

Among the competing athletes, U.S. speed skater and "Dancing With the Stars" alum Apolo Anton Ohno, American skier Lindsey Vonn and snowboarder Shaun White will draw big crowds.

And NHL stars Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin will lace up for the international hockey tournament, but they just might be overshadowed by the presence of the Great One. Molson Canadian Hockey House confirms Wayne Gretzky will be in town.

Golfer Mike Weir will make an appearance on behalf of the Ontario pavilion set for the Games and B.C. comedian Brent Butt will perform at Hockey House. Talk show host and comedian Stephen Colbert says he's coming with the U.S. speedskating team, despite his "Hey Canada, Don't Be An Ice-Hole" letter-writing campaign.

From the opening ceremonies and the nightly parties, to the celebrations after the flame goes out, there will be eye candy aplenty for star watchers.

And then there's the nightlife. Business big wigs from Ferrari to Budweiser will be hosting star-studded private parties throughout the city.

Club Bud will take over Vancouver's vaunted Commodore Ballroom, while HBC is rumoured to be setting up a gifting suite for the glitterati at the Loden Hotel.

"It's not like people are going to be able to go up and crash the penthouse suite, but there will be celebrities going in and out of the Loden, so if you have the time and the inclination you can certainly stand across the street from the Loden, if that's what you want to do, and wait for celebrities to go in and out," says Lui.

Amid the Eurotrash jet setters and the usual line-up of Hollywood camera chasers, Lui says visitors might catch a glimpse of homegrown B.C. stars such as songstress Sarah McLachlan, NBA MVP and general VIP Steve Nash and actor Ryan Reynolds (now sometimes referred to as Mr. Scarlett Johansson).

"There's a very, very good chance those people will be there and then a very, very good chance that international party superstars could fly in just to be seen and see other people."

Celebutante Paris Hilton has never met a camera she didn't love and with tens of thousands of them slated to be in Vancouver, there's almost no chance she won't show up to be part of the festivities, say celebrity watchers.

"She makes a career and a life out of going places she doesn't belong just so she can be seen. It's very, very possible she'd come to Vancouver and Club Bud is where she'd end up," says Lui.

Despite the "sporting" nature of the event, athletes just might be outnumbered by musicians. Thanks largely to the accompanying Cultural Olympiad, the Barenaked Ladies, Feist, and Lou Reed will be in Vancouver at some point during the Games.

In Whistler, Usher, the Fray, and Jully Black are lined up to perform.

The mountain resort north of Vancouver is no stranger to celebrities, and will likely draw its own, long roster of A-list visitors.

"I think we're going to see a lot of stars go up to Whistler, for sure. It's easier for them to hide up there," says Vancouver-based celebrity photographer Rik Fedyck.

In Vancouver, business should be a bit easier. Not all celebrities shun a camera lens.

"I've heard some pretty big names coming here. It'll be good A-listers, put it that way," Fedyck says.

He's been told that Hayden Christensen of Star Wars fame, and rapper Sean "Puffy" Combs are on the Games guest list.

Fedyck has been entertaining calls from newspapers and magazines around the world, lining up coverage of their own favourite stars.

And there are sure to be some new stars born under the glow of the rings.

"I was in Calgary in '88 and you've always got your little Olympic sweethearts or somebody who does well who becomes an instant celebrity, similar to what Phelps did," he says.

"There's probably not enough of me to go around and get everything that will be in town."

Vancouver's major advantage over other recent Games is that it's in the same time zone as Hollywood and on the same continent.

"It's not a haul to get here. I think that's why the celebrity factor is going to be so high here," says Lui, who will be reporting for CTV and updating her blog, www.laineygossip.com, regularly.



But for all her professional celebrity obsession, it's not the Hollywood set that she's looking forward to seeing.

"I'm obsessed with figure skating. I love Michelle Kwan, so it would be so exciting for me to see if Michelle Kwan shows up to watch the figure skating events. I'm also really, really obsessed with Wayne Gretzky. That would be really cool."

 
 
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