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Up close with John Furlong

Vancouver Organizing Committee's CEDO outlines the coming year's challenges as 2010 draws near



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It allows you to test everything. It allows you to create Games-time conditions of any kind and it allows you to do it over a period of time that is reasonable and rational…  So we can do a lot of scenario planning that you can’t do if you are putting the last bricks in place six weeks before the Games.


Pique: We have seen several changes to the venues plan since the bid phase including a move to NHL-sized ice, moving some Paralympic events to Vancouver from Whistler, and putting the speed skating oval in Richmond. Will we see more?

Furlong: Our view of this has always been that we don’t make any change that doesn’t make the project better, and we don’t make any changes without all the stakeholders involved being supportive of it.

Really these things happened because there is a better way to do it, or a new more creative way, or a more responsible way to do it. So I would not ever say never, but I wouldn’t say we have plans to make any changes.


Pique: Some would say that the heart of the Games is in the villages where the athletes spend their down time. Many athletes are already praising the 2010 villages. What are your thoughts on them?

Furlong: I believed that in the bid phase they were a diamond in the rough and today I believe they are a diamond.

The athletes are the ultimate judges of Olympic success and to wake up every morning and spend your time in these two locations, which are absolutely remarkably well positioned; I think it will be an experience far beyond anything that any athlete before has had.


Pique: What is VANOC’s vision for the opening and closing ceremonies?

Furlong: I’d be reluctant to say yet what the vision or message is because it is something we have to build collectively, there is a lot involved in that. This is a unique opportunity for us to do something unique in front of the world and we need to have the right people in place and we need to build that vision in a very collaborative and collective way and it takes time.