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Whistler awaits Vancouver plebiscite on Games

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"You can’t hide from it. But I’m hearing good things from lots of people."

A "yes" vote would signal not just support, said O’Reilly but a new level of understanding from the public following the intense debate and media coverage of the last few weeks.

A "no" vote on the other hand, said O’Reilly, could be a signal to go back and see what people were reacting to and a focus on how to improve the bid.

But Olympic expert Kevin Wamsley said the plebiscite is too close to the July selection date for the 2010 Games for any issues to be addressed.

"I don’t think there is anything that can be done realistically to suggest that things have been fixed and that people would vote otherwise," said Wamsley, director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies at the University of Western Ontario.

"And without having another plebiscite you would never know so I don’t think that argument holds any water."

Wamsley wonders whether Vancouver’s plebiscite will set a new precedent.

Already proponents of the New York 2012 Games are eyeing Vancouver’s vote with concern.

"The IOC is a reactive organization," said Wamsley. "So if there is intense public pressure, particularly when huge sums of public money are involved, to address the wishes of the people who are actually paying for the Games I could see the IOC in the future requesting that a plebiscite take place.

"It is part of the bidding. It is right there on the list that the citizens of the regions must approve.

"If a couple informal or formal plebiscites occur, and the answer is no, I think that puts pressure on the IOC to request a formal recognition of a yes vote or a no vote."

Maureen Douglas, director of community relations for the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation in Whistler, said a number of people have voiced their frustration over the Vancouver plebiscite.

"I have had some e-mails and people are certainly frustrated and concerned," said Douglas.

"I have had a lot of regular citizens and volunteers say what can I do.

"Some people have said to me that they feel somewhat disenfranchised and what they want is to find a way to be actively empowered."

Public support in Whistler has been steadily increasing said Douglas.

"Whistler has always had a majority in support of the Games with the average sitting at about 65 per cent," she said.

Results of the plebiscite are not legally binding, but a strong No could result in the IOC voting to award the Games to either Salzburg, Austria or Pyeongchang, South Korea.