Not any more

Taxpayers paid Olympic Mascots travel tab

In Canada on August 17, 2010 at 21:01

If it seemed like the 2010 Winter Olympic mascots were everywhere before the start of the Vancouver Games, it wasn’t magic.

It was taxpayers’ money.

The federal government spent $16,000 to buy its own set of Quatchi, Miga and Sumi costumes to dazzle crowds at more than 23 events over the year leading up to the Games.

The government also spent $4,650 to train actors to play the carefully crafted characters that were a major success of the Olympic marketing machine.

“Actors hired by the 2010 federal secretariat took part in an intensive training program hosted by (Olympic organizers) to ensure that Sumi, Miga, and Quatchi would live up to a consistent standard of bringing along their magic, rain or sunshine,” reads the government’s 2008-2009 report into its Olympic-related activities.

The total budget for outfits, training and travel was $88,849.

The report was posted online last month, a year later than originally scheduled.

The decision to buy a set of mascot costumes was actually made to save money, the report said.

Meeting the demand for mascot appearances by government departments would have cost an estimated $300,000, if the suits had to be rented from the Olympic organizing committee, known as VANOC.

“The program allowed more Canadians in more parts of the country to experience these special creatures first-hand than what otherwise would have been possible.”

But don’t expect to see the mythical creatures anywhere else soon.

“The mascot costumes were donated to VANOC at the conclusion of the 2010 Winter Games,” a spokesman for Canadian Heritage said in an email.

The committee gave two full sets of Olympic mascot costumes to the museum of Vancouver’s 2010 legacy collection, one was sent to the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne and one went to the Olympic Hall of Fame and Museum in Calgary.

The costume for Sumi, who was officially the Paralympic Mascot, was sent to the International Paralympic Committee in Germany.

The rules of the Olympic movement say that once a Games are over, the mascots must be retired permanently.

The federal government had a $1.2-billion budget for the Games, which helped build venues and pay for security as well as providing services such as visa screening and customs clearance.

A final report on their Games spending is expected later this year.

A recent audit into the money provided for venue construction found it was all correctly accounted for by the Olympic organizing committee.

The committee’s final financials are expected to be made public in October, but the committee has said the budget will balance, though not without help from taxpayers.

The federal government gave the organizing committee an additional $30.7-million to help put on the Games, with $12-million going to the Paralympics, $11-million for the Own the Podium program and $7.7-million for translation services.

While all those funds were publicly announced, the B.C. government revealed earlier this year that it had secretly boosted Olympic coffers to the tune of $50-million.

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