Organizers of the 2010 Games are hurrying hard to ensure venues look and feel like Olympic sites and that issues — including humidity from the coats of sopping wet spectators — don’t affect athletes’ performances.

Jan Damnavits, VANOC’s director of city venues, said the Richmond Olympic Oval and the Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Centre, home of long-track speedskating and curling, respectively, are in a three-to-four-week “fit out” stage of preparation.

Tents and fences are being put up and security perimeters are being established. The bright green and blue Vancouver 2010 graphics are being plastered on fences and buildings.

“We’re on plan,” Damnavits said yesterday during a tour of the two venues.

“The Games are coming on the 12th and the venues have to open. It’s not an option to wait until the 13th.”

The Richmond Olympic Oval, which will hold 7,600 spectators, will have 57 temporary tents, 23 trailers and 75 portable toilets.

More than 30 kilometres of cable is being installed for broadcast lighting.

Large white tents were also used to create a double-door to keep humidity in the Oval low.

Inside, the large river-facing windows have been plastered with green-and-blue images of speed skaters.

Mark Messer, the Oval’s ice expert, said the ice-making process began about a week ago with the cleaning of the building and the gradual cooling of the concrete slab.

The first coat of ice was applied and the ice was painted with Vancouver 2010 and the Olympic motto: With Glowing Hearts.

The Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Centre, which will hold 5,600 spectators and will be the largest curling venue in the history of the Games, will use 26 tents to form a covered concourse for spectators.

“The outside environment can have a very positive or negative impact on the field of play,” said Neil Houston, manager of curling during the Games.

“The major challenge at this point is that we haven’t had 6,000 people and pouring rain to test it out fully.”

Water evaporating because of body heat from the clothes of thousands of drenched fans could raise humidity in the building, he said. It could cause frost on the ice and could impact the way the stones respond.

GM Place, which will become Canada Hockey Place during the Games, will not begin its formal “fit-out” process until after Jan. 27, the date of the final Vancouver Canucks home game until March.

Damnavits said the process at GM Place will be very short and will have to be completed in a week and a half at the most.

No loonies
Venue managers for both the Oval and the Olympic Centre said there would be no loonies buried in the ice during the 2010 Games.