What a start to the year it has been. After the euphoria of their nation’s success in the Winter Olympic Games, Vancouver did not have long to celebrate before it again played host to the world’s finest athletes, this time in the 2010 Winter Paralympics, which cumulated in March.
As my colleague Alan Williams previously wrote about at this blog, there are many logistical challenges to consider with an event of this scale, and there was a real sense around the city of both excitement and anticipation of the hard work needed to ensure everything ran smoothly. And at UPS, we felt this excitement too.
Moving all the equipment and kit for 66 Team GB athletes and a further 55 support staff during both the Winter Olympics and the Winter Paralympics wasn’t a simple task but one we were well placed to tackle. The planning process took over 3 months and the shipments were carefully synchronised over a period of 2 months.
In all, UPS shipped a total of 27 tonnes of sports equipment, athlete’s kit, uniforms, medical supplies and head-quarter equipment such as PC’s, and printers, co-ordinated across UPS offices in five different cities around the world.
One of the most time-critical and sensitive items we shipped were the four Team GB bobsleighs. Unsurprisingly, the unusual size of the bobsleighs meant they did not fit on a standard commercial flight, so we had to ship three of them by freighter via Los Angeles to Salt Lake City, while the other was sent to Montreal for onward delivery to Lake Placid ready for the team’s training and preparation prior to the start of the Games. Then, as the countdown to Vancouver reached its climax, we arranged for the four bobsleighs to be sent to Whistler on a flat bed trailer. As you can imagine, this all had to be done within a tight timeframe, and I’m glad to say that thanks to our past experience, great teamwork and the dedication of the Montreal, Vancouver and Salt Lake City UPS teams, all four bobsleighs – along with every other item we shipped for Team GB – travelled seamlessly as planned.
Besides the usual logistical challenges you’d expect from transporting specialised sporting equipment, there were also a number of other extra requests which we were able to help Team GB with.
For instance, we were asked to receive, assemble, store and finally deliver over 500 locally purchased products from Vancouver to the apartments in the Olympic Villages in Vancouver and Whistler. It was not something that fell within our usual remit, but thanks to the efforts of the UPS Vancouver team, all of this was completed without a hitch.
It is through our experience with previous Olympic Games and through working with Team GB in Vancouver which has given us some invaluable lessons that we can apply in our planning for the London 2012 Olympic Games.