VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — IOC president Jacques Rogge believes the Vancouver Olympics will leave a legacy as a "blueprint" for future games.
Three days before the opening ceremony, Rogge praised Vancouver organizers for their policies on the environment and long-term use of facilities. He singled out the organizing committee for its ability in coping with the economic downturn.
"Hosting the games is always a complex and challenging undertaking," Rogge said Tuesday. "VANOC and its partners rose to the challenge without compromising the original vision for these games."
"That vision has established new standards for environmental sustainability and legacy planning," he said. "Everything that has been done to prepare for these games was done with the athletes, the environment and the legacy in mind. The lessons learned here are a blueprint for future games."
Rogge spoke at the opening of the 122nd International Olympic Committee session. The three-day assembly will examine the preparations for the Vancouver Games as well as planning for future Olympics in London; Sochi, Russia; and Rio de Janeiro.
The audience included Canada's Governor General Michaelle Jean, British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.
Rogge offered condolences to the people of Haiti as they try to recover from last month's devastating earthquake.
"We will not let them down," Rogge said. "The Olympic movement will support the reconstruction of the sports infrastructure in Haiti."
He also remembered the victims of the attack on the bus carrying Togo's national soccer team in Angola last month, and a suicide car bomber that killed volleyball fans in Pakistan.
Rogge paid tribute to Jack Poole, who played a large role in bringing the Olympics to Vancouver. The former chairman of the organizing committee died last year from pancreatic cancer.
Rogge noted that more than 2,500 athletes from 82 countries will be competing at the Vancouver Games, which will be followed by more than 10,000 media, 250,000 spectators and a global television audience of 3 billion.
Rogge also said athletes should serve as role models and spurn performance-enhancing drugs.
"The vast majority of athletes take that responsibility quite seriously," Rogge said at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. "They know that there are no shortcuts to success. We owe it to them to do everything we can to ensure that the competition is fair and free of doping. We will do our part."
The IOC is conducting 2,000 doping tests at the Vancouver Games, 800 more than in Turin four years ago.
Canadian speakers at the ceremony referred to their country's hope of finally winning a gold medal on home soil after failure to do so at the 1976 Montreal Summer Games and the 1988 Calgary Winter Games.
This time, Canada is a contender to lead the medal standings for the first time.
"The last gold rush was in 1858," Robertson said. "I predict that the next gold rush will begin within one week."
John Furlong, the chief executive of VANOC, received a long round of applause when introduced. He said "all of Canada prays these games are truly golden."
Rogge followed Furlong to the podium.
"You obtained a standing ovation even before the start of the games. I am tempted to close them on the spot," Rogge said. "I will not do it because I am sure you will give us 16 days of magic."