VANOC tutors Sochi and others on Olympics

By BOB MACKIN, QMI Agency

VANCOUVER - The mission for 45 people from the Vancouver Olympic committee going to Sochi, Russia to advise future Olympic organizers is not to brag.

“It isn’t really for us to go and flex our muscles and tell anybody how good we think we were,” VANOC chief executive John Furlong said Monday. “But to simply share with these organizations information that they will be able to use to become better at what they have to do.”

The June 3-11 knowledge transfer conference with Sochi 2014, London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016 and 2018 bid cities starts with three days on technology. After a one-day break, VANOC will offer advice for another three days on about three dozen topics, from the torch relay to security. The last day will be about the Paralympics.

In 2006, VANOC hosted executives from the Torino 2006 organization. The Italian committee’s chairman Cesare Vaciago declared airport-style security screening at Olympic venues was a waste of money.

VANOC didn’t follow his advice to scrap it, but instead randomly screened the 100,000 accredited people at most venues during the Vancouver Games. The system was inspired by trusted traveler programs at major airports and border crossings.

“We were moving people through accredited areas at 10 times the speed of any other time in Olympic history,” Furlong said.

Furlong said dealing with the ups and downs of the global economy will be discussed. Vancouver venues were built amid an economic boom that went bust with under 18 months until the Games opened.

International Olympic Committee executive director Gilbert Felli said whatever happens to the economy, Sochi will not be affected in the same way.

“The engagement of the government is much higher in Russia than it was in Canada,” Felli said.

Felli said the Canadian government gave “good support” to VANOC. Russia’s situation, he said, is more akin to China where the central government made Beijing 2008 a national priority.

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