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  • On the Scene: IOC Says Vancouver Transport "Difficult"


    Traffic stopped for construction along the Sea to Sky Highway. (ATR)
    (ATR) IOC inspectors say a transport plan for the Vancouver Olympics should be ready when they next return in 2009.

    "As always, transportation is difficult for Olympic Games,” said IOC Olympic Games Executive Director Gilbert Felli at the close of the latest visit of the 10-member IOC Coordination Commission.

    ”It’s even more difficult in the Winter Games and it will be even more difficult in Vancouver,” said Felli.

    The biggest challenge facing organizers is the movement of tens of thousands of spectators to alpine and Nordic venues in Whistler, 120km from Vancouver.

    Felli and the commission chaired by IOC member and ice hockey federation president Rene Fasel are planning two more trips to Vancouver prior to the Games. This week’s was the group’s seventh visit.

    “With the Beijing Games now over, it is Vancouver 2010’s turn to step into the spotlight and I am confident that Vancouver 2010 can also
    IOC commission chair Rene Fasel says Vancouver’s turn has come for the Olympic spotlight. (ATR)
    raise the bar for the Olympic Winter Games,” said Fasel.

    The IOC commission visit ended Thursday amid worries about the future of Fortress Investment Group, the debt-plagued owner of alpine skiing venue in Whistler and bobsled, luge and skeleton site Blackcomb. New York-based Fortress faced a Thursday
    VANOC chair Jack Poole and CEO John Furlong. (ATR)
    deadline for $1.68 billion in debt payments for the ski resorts’ Vancouver parent Intrawest.

    “Even if they seek protection under Canada’s bankruptcy laws, it’ll be business as usual,” said VANOC chairman Jack Poole. “We’re highly optimistic that that’ll be resolved, if not in the next day, then in the next couple of weeks.”

    Poole called the economic climate “frightening” but said the IOC gave VANOC valuable advice to “make sure we’re only doing what we need to do to put on outstanding Games and no unnecessary frills.”

    VANOC CEO John Furlong said all partners and sponsors are up-to-date with payments.

    Written by Bob Mackin
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