VANOC stays on defensive
By BOB MACKIN, QMI Agency
VANCOUVER -- Officials of the 2010 Winter Olympics’ organizing committee were on the defensive Wednesday after newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean called Vancouver 2010 one of the worst-organized Winter Games.
"When I look at the first four or five days, I don't think there's anybody here and anyone in the city that would have been prepared to say 'I could have predicted this' -- some of the things that Vancouver 2010 had to deal with,” said VANOC CEO John Furlong. "Today and yesterday were pretty darn good days and we're trying to build on that and show that we have the resilience, and the thoughtfulness and the humility to manage the stuff that comes our way."
The Guardian and Washington Post are among several big-name outlets to seize upon the El Nino-influenced weather, a tragic luge crash and numerous VANOC errors of omission and commission.
The first morning of the 21st Winter Games on Feb. 12 was marred by the horrific death of 21-year-old Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili. Competitions at Cypress Mountain were postponed by rainstorms and VANOC cancelled 28,000 standing room tickets. Spectators complained of long lineups for high-cost, low-variety food.
More than 2,000 anti-Olympic protesters snarled traffic before the opening ceremony while a smaller group nearly sparked a riot on Saturday morning. Buses chartered from United States’ companies have broken down or their drivers become lost on area streets while carrying spectators, media and athletes.
The sudden replacement of VANOC volunteers with International Biathlon Union timekeepers may have cost a Canadian athlete his chance at a medal on Tuesday. An Olympia ice cleaner at Richmond Olympic Oval broke down and delayed speedskating Monday. It was replaced by a vehicle from competitor Zamboni on Tuesday.
"People had a bit of fun at our expense with respect to the equipment to resurface the ice at the Oval,” Furlong said. "The question is, what did we do when the problem happened? We fixed it. And that is really what the job of the organization is to try to deal with these things as they come up."
Meanwhile, VANOC bowed to public and media pressure late Tuesday and allowed better access to the outdoor Olympic cauldron beside the international broadcast centre. Chainlink fences and barriers were moved closer to the glass and steel sculpture on Jack Poole Plaza and a viewing deck was opened so people can take unobstructed photographs through the end of the Games on Feb. 28.