Vancouver organizer measures success by medals

Thu Feb 28, 2008 8:27am EST
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By Steve Ginsburg

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - The man charged with making the Vancouver Winter Olympics a success knows there are some things out of his control.

John Furlong, chief executive officer of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Games, admits that Canadians have to reach the podium for the event to be truly memorable.

"I would say 50 percent of the success of the project hinges on having a team that everybody sees as the team to beat," he told Reuters recently in a wide-ranging interview.

Furlong is the first to concede that history has not been kind to Canadians when they have had the home-field advantage.

At the 1988 Calgary Winter Games, Canada failed to reach the top of the podium while winning just five medals. At the Montreal Summer Olympics in 1976, they won 11 medals but none of them were gold.

"Just thinking back to Italy (in 2006) when we were at the (Turin Winter) Games, speaking strictly as a Canadian, the next best thing to a Canadian winning a medal was when an Italian won a medal.

"There was just some sort of magic around that. We have not had great experiences at home at the Olympics. We haven't won many medals.

"You would never build a great theatre, or a great cinema, without thinking about the programs, the activities or the films that you would put on.   Continued...

<p>The countdown clock for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games hits the exact two year mark in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia February 12, 2008. REUTERS/Andy Clark</p>