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  • Olympics Experts Arrive in Vancouver


    Vancouver organizers still need to strike a deal to use GM Place as the main hockey venue in 2010. (ATR) 
    (ATR) A team from the IOC arrives in Vancouver Monday for two days of meetings with leaders of the 2010 Olympics, the chairman of the group telling Around the Rings he expects "good news" this week.

    Rene Fasel says he is hoping for a quick resolution of the lease and compensation agreement with the owners of main Olympic hockey venue for 2010, General Motors Place. The arena is also the home the NHL Vancouver Canucks, who will need a temporary home during part of January and all of February 2010.

    GM Place will also be unavailable for concerts, another revenue issue resulting from the Olympic takeover.

    Fasel said he's willing to get involved if talks with arena owner Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment are at an impasse, though "it's not my role to be there."

    "It's a challenge we have," Fasel said. "But I need to have more information."

    The Coordination Commission's third visit to Vancouver includes plenary and working group sessions at VANOC's East Vancouver headquarters and venue site tours in Vancouver and Whistler. The commission will meet Tuesday and Wednesday.

    VANOC will offer a progress report on all aspects of planning the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. Fasel will join Prince Edward and International Paralympic Committee CEO Xavier Gonzales in a city hall IPC flag-raising ceremony Wednesday.

    Coordination Commission is bound to get a peek at VANOC's quarterly financial report, which will be made public in mid-June. VANOC continues to wait for a $110 million increase in federal and provincial government funding to offset rising construction costs.

    "When we awarded the games, nobody could expect the costs be so high as they are today," Fasel said. "That's the challenge for everybody, to find ways to find good balance."

    Rene Fasel leads the third full visit of the IOC commission this week. (ATR) 
    acknowledged the environmental protest which delayed expansion of the Sea-to-Sky highway for more than a month, but "(protesters) went to court, they lost."

    Protesters of the Olympic highway wanted a forest-destroying overland route to be stopped and a tunnel built instead.

    "It's not easy to make decisions," said Fasel. "You can never satisfy everybody."

    Fasel will stop in New York en route to Vancouver to meet with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. They'll discuss ongoing talks for a player transfer agreement with the Russian Hockey Federation. Fasel is hopeful new RHF president Vladislav Tretyak's influence will hasten an agreement. IIHF's 2007 World Championship is in Russia. Without a deal, Russian NHLers could be disqualified.

    Reported by Bob Mackin in Vancouver.

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