(ATR) Vancouver may have won the 2010 Games because of a secret agreement for Russia’s IOC votes, speculates VANOC CEO John Furlong in a newly published memoir.
“Patriot Hearts: Inside the Olympics That Changed a Country” (Douglas and McIntyre) is being published this week, the one year anniversary for the Vancouver Games.
The book, written with Vancouver journalist Gary Mason, says Furlong and former international bobsleigh federation president Bob Storey visited Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov at his office near Red Square before the host city election in 2003.
"Luzhkov said the country wanted our help with the planning of its bid (for Summer 2012),” Furlong said. “We talked about the deal we had earlier worked out with Russian officials.”
Storey, Furlong said, had arranged for Vancouver’s bid team to host a seminar for the Russians, to advise them on formulating a contending bid. In exchange, Vancouver would get the Russian votes.
"There was certainly nothing illegal or unethical about it,” Furlong said in the book. “When we shook hands I never doubted for a second Luzhkov would be good for his word.”
Vancouver beat PyeongChang by three votes while Moscow’s 2012 bid failed on the first ballot in 2005. Russian eventually was awarded the 2014 Winter Games for Sochi.
Furlong during Vancouver’s bid for the 2010 Olympics. He claims he traveled “nearly 2 million kilometers" during the bid. (ATR)
Furlong said he was glad Vancouver beat the Korean bid because he estimated PyeongChang outspent Vancouver $100 million to $35 million and was plying IOC members with gifts to get their votes.
At a “key gathering” in Buenos Aires, Furlong says “a squad of beautiful young Korean women walked into the presentation hall carrying bags full of goodies. I saw one delegate pull a watch from one bag. Someone lifted a compact disc player out of another.”
He also recounted a meeting with Ivan Slavkov, a Bulgarian who was ejected from the IOC in 2005 for corruption. Slavkov, Fulong wrote, “represented the worst of the IOC” and said the meeting “gave me the creeps”.
The book also reveals the family of late Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili was to receive a $150,000 insurance settlement.
The death of Nodar Kumaritashvili figures heavily in “Patriot Hearts”. (Getty Images)
Furlong, a pallbearer at his Feb. 15 Vancouver funeral, left the March 21 Paralympic closing ceremony early to travel to the funeral in Bakuriani, Geogia. He took with him the euro equivalent of $25,000 -- proceeds from the auction of a podium -- and presented it to father David at the wake because the insurer was not ready to pay the grand sum.
“He’d have the pain of his loss for the rest of his life, but the money would help make that life easier,” said the book.
Furlong was critical of British Columbia New Democratic Party leader Carole James, the party’s Olympics critic Harry Bains and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, a former NDP lawmaker.
"I expected more respect from Carole James, who had never asked for a walk-through of our finances,” Furlong wrote. “It burned me even more that the auditor general was sounding off and yet had never once asked to meet with me or members of my team to talk about the facts."
Furlong also deals at length with the internal and external strife over the perceived lack of French in the Games. Canada is officially bilingual and French is the IOC’s first language.
According to Furlong, he and IOC president Jacques Rogge “didn’t become especially close”. (Getty Images)
He sent surplus workforce uniforms to politicians after the Games as a goodwill measure. Members of the Bloc Quebecois, a federal party that advocates Quebec’s separation from Canada, nearly returned theirs because Furlong’s covering letter was in English only.
“The matter got resolved and they kept the jackets, but it was a final shot that didn't show a lot of class.”
As for relations with the IOC, Furlong admitted he “hadn’t become especially close” with president Jacques Rogge. “He’s never going to be a bubbly effervescent guy, but I have enormous respect for Jacques”.
The twice-married Furlong dedicated the book and expressed his love in the acknowledgements to Catherine Bachand. Bachand was not mentioned elsewhere in the book, but she was Furlong’s former executive assistant.
With reporting in Vancouver from Bob Mackin in Vancouver.
For general comments or questions, click here.
Your best source of news about the Olympics is www.aroundtherings.com, for subscribers only.