VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- In spring, the Olympic Village that was a temporary home to athletes will begin undergoing a conversion into an affordable housing community for at least 16,000 people, replete with child care centers, a school and green space.
The Olympic Oval in suburban Richmond that hosted speed skating will start to be renovated into a city recreation center, with two ice rinks, eight basketball courts, an indoor running track and an infield for more sports.
And in the tiny ski resort of Whistler, where the 2010 Olympic skiing and sliding events were held, Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed will look to follow through on his promise to erect a permanent memorial to Nodar Kumaritashvili, forever known as the Georgian luger who was killed on the eve of the opening of the Vancouver Winter Games.
Tragedy, unfortunately, will be as much a part of the legacy of the 2010 Winter Games as anything else. There can't be any denying it, and there shouldn't be.
What happened here to Kumaritashvili should be the starkest reminder to those who run our world's biennial global games -- Jacques Rogge and the International Olympic Committee -- that it is the athlete who is the gathering's most-precious resource and not the capital their exploits can mine.
The Olympic movement should not go forth to London in 2012 and Sochi in 2014 as it did in Vancouver, squashing the expression of those who've sacrificed so much to climb a stage so high and bright. It is time for the Games' organizers to embrace those for whom they organize, like Vancouver did all of us who visited the past two weeks, rather than shun and shush them.
The Olympics are like any sports; most of us watch the Games to see what the athletes are going to do rather than to see what imprint on the competitions the officials are going to leave.
But the organizers of these Olympics that closed Sunday night refused to heed the warnings of the lugers, bobsledders and skeleton racers who upon finally getting a chance to train on the slide reported it was far more dangerous than it needed to be.
"It's not the IOC pushing the boundaries," Rogge said at a news conference before Sunday's closing ceremony. "The boundaries are pushed mostly by the ambition of the athletes themselves, and we have at times to protect them from their own risk-taking.
By the time they took such steps at the slide, however, it was too late.
Rogge and his officers seemed more interested in lassoing the natural exuberance of the Games' athletes rather than the irrational exuberance of architects who made the slide deadly instead of simply daring. For example, when Canada's gold medal-winning women's hockey team, which also beat its U.S. counterpart, celebrated on the ice with champagne, beer and cigars -- just like men might do -- Rogge's office frowned and threatened to investigate what it perceived as tawdry behavior.
This wasn't a first threatened crackdown by Rogge's office on unbridled, youthful joy. At the Beijing Summer Games, Rogge publicly criticized world record-setting Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt for the manner in which Bolt celebrated his unprecedented achievements. (Comparatively, Rogge, who is Belgian, didn't criticize fellow European Evgeni Plushenko, the Russian figure skater, for his behavior deemed disrespectful by much of the Western media in the wake of his silver-medal finish to U.S. skater Evan Lysacek in the free skate. Maybe it is only the Americas against which Rogge holds some grudge.)
Rogge even suggested the women's hockey tournament was too lopsided and might not be fit as an Olympic sport. What he should have said was that other national Olympic bodies should support their female athletes as vigorously as the United States and Canada support theirs.
The Olympics need to get back to championing athletes rather than combating them, unless, of course, they are drug cheats. (One men's and one women's hockey player in Vancouver tested positive, but weren't banned, for illegal substances found in common cold remedies. That was it on the drug front. The athletes looked to be living up to their fair-play responsibility.)
The IOC could steal one page from how to celebrate its athletes in the future from the Vancouver Organizing Committee, which, along with the family of a man now deceased named Terry Fox, created an award in Fox's name. It was to highlight athletes who embodied Fox's spirit. He lost a leg to cancer as a young man and set out to run across Canada in 1980 to raise funds for cancer research.
Fox died of cancer before he could complete in what he called the Marathon of Hope, but his steadfastness in the face of pain has helped raise nearly a half-billion dollars for research over the last 29 years.
On Saturday night in a teary-eyed ceremony, two Vancouver Olympians won the first Fox Awards. They were Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette, who skated to a bronze medal a few days after her mother died, and Slovenian cross-country skier Petra Majdic, who despite five broken ribs and a punctured lung raced in honor of those who helped her make the Olympic team and won a bronze medal as Slovenia's first cross-country medalist.
Canada asked Rochette to carry its flag in the closing ceremonies. That was fitting.
It is time for the Olympics to be returned to the athletes.