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John Furlong

Vancouver 2010's organizing committee head reflects on the year

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This really reminds you where the higher values are with this.

Then in Kelowna, a few months ago… I was at the airport ready to come back and I was sitting in the corner on my own reading the Globe and Mail and this elderly gentleman came over and he sort of tipped the newspaper away from the front of my face and he said, ‘you’re John Furlong right?’ I said yes. ‘You’re the guy with the Olympic Games?’ and I said, ‘yes, I am. I hope that is a good thing.’

And he looked at me and he said, ‘this entire generation of British Columbians will be measured by the performance of your committee.’ And I started to realize in many ways it is true when you see the scope of the Games and think of the three-plus billion people who will watch it around the world. They will look and they will watch and they will judge all of us and it is why it is so important that we are successful at building this sense of teamwork that we are all in this together.

All of the other challenges, meeting deadlines and reports being made public, and the finances of the Games, they are all things that happen to every big project that comes along. But what we are trying to do here is leave an extraordinary human legacy and when I hear (those types of thoughts) I feel like what we are doing is being validated.

Pique: There were significant challenges in 2006, such as securing new funding from the provincial and federal governments. What are some of the challenges you expect in 2007?

JF: I think 2007 is the year in which the real heavy lifting for construction has to be finished. We have put a flag down that the projects in Whistler will be completed in the fall of 2007. That is a promise we have made and we need to get those venues completed, get them done, completed, open and get athletes on to them. We need to send a loud message to the community that we are on time and on budget and we need to get the athlete strategy up and moving and get the athletes out here to feel and touch the venues so they can properly prepare for 2010.

We have put ourselves under such pressure to be done early… so people are watching and this is how the world tends to judge the performance of the organizing committee — how it does its venue program, how it completes the venues, so that is obviously a very important thing.

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