Recent media coverage regarding challenges associated with Right To Play’s possible presence and role in the Athletes’ Village at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and Whistler requires clarification.
Right To Play is an organization that the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) has and continues to fully and whole-heartedly support. We respect their vision, mission and mandate and greatly admire the work they have done around the world. We have athletes and executives on our team who are Right To Play board members, ambassadors and supporters.
VANOC has been in ongoing discussions with Right To Play to establish a formal partnership that would allow them to deliver on a number of their key programs in association with the 2010 Winter Games. Over this time it has been extremely heartening to see them enjoy great success in securing many new sponsors to help fund their programs and initiatives. We fully support these fundraising initiatives. This new dynamic does, however, require both of our organizations to be diligent in protecting the rights we’ve promised to our sponsors.
Our 2010 sponsors have made significant and unprecedented financial commitments totalling over $1 billion to the 2010 Winter Games, the Canadian Olympic teams, Own the Podium 2010, numerous grassroots sports initiatives and other charities. VANOC has a responsibility to protect the exclusivity that has been promised to our sponsors to ensure the success of the 2010 Winter Games and the long-term financial support of high performance and grassroots sport in Canada. As a matter of trust we must deliver on our promises, which will help ensure that support for amateur athletes will continue long after the 2010 Games.
One of these sponsors is General Motors, which has been unfairly blamed for interfering with Right To Play’s desire to have a presence in the Athletes’ Village. Not true. To the contrary, GM has strongly encouraged us to find a way to work with Right To Play. The 2010 Winter Games, Canada’s Olympians and children across the country who participate in sport are far better off because of sponsors like General Motors.
Our door is open to Right To Play and always has been. We have informed them that we would like to continue our discussions but with assurances that Right To Play activities and sponsors will not be positioned in a way that could infringe on the rights of Olympic sponsors. We are optimistic that a solution can be found through which Right To Play can do their great work during the 2010 Winter Games while we deliver completely on the promises we have made to our valued sponsors in return for their generous support for the 2010 Winter Games, Canadian Olympic athletes and sport in Canada.