The Dutch have been told they can bring hundreds of bicycles to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Canada to promote cycling – but only if they take almost all of them home with them.
The original plan had been to use the bikes to promote healthy lifestyles and give the public, Dutch athletes and their families an environmentally friendly way to get around the Olympic village. It was intended that at the end of the Games they would be donated to a local charity.
But the Canadians insisted that import duties needed to be paid on the bikes unless they were sent straight back to The Netherlands. A compromise has now been reached, whereby the Dutch can leave 25 of the bikes in the country tax-free but must take the remaining 400 back home with them.
The sturdy all-weather bikes have been funded by the Dutch national railway. The Netherlands has been promoting the use of bicycles in Canada for the past three years through its “Go Green, Go Dutch, Go Bike” events, this year organising rides in cities across the country.
The Games start on 12 February in and around Vancouver. Thousands of Dutch fans are expected to arrive to support their country’s speed-skaters. At the last Winter Games in Turin, The Netherlands won nine medals, including three golds.