VANCOUVER (Reuters) - The man who headed the campaign to bring the 2010 Winter Olympics to Vancouver died on Friday, hours after learning that the Olympic flame he dreamed of bringing to Canada had begun its journey.
Jack Poole, 76, died in a Vancouver hospital after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, according to the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC).
Poole was chairman of the 2010 Winter Olympics organizing committee and had also chaired Vancouver's successful bid in 2003 to host next year's Games.
VANOC Chief Executive John Furlong said he spoke with Poole on Thursday, giving him details of the ceremony earlier that day in Olympia, Greece, at which the Olympic flame was lit to begin its journey to Canada.
"Jack was extremely moved by the day and truly felt he had come as close to being there as possible," Furlong said in a statement from Greece.
International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge praised Poole as a "great leader and a great man," and said the two became good friends as Vancouver prepared to host next year's events.
"I am in no doubt that one of Jack's legacies will be a great Olympic Winter Games in 2010," Rogge said in a statement issued by the IOC.
Poole, a Vancouver real estate developer, remained active in VANOC after being diagnosed with cancer in 2007, attending board meetings by phone and in person briefly when the disease appeared to be in remission.
VANOC has not yet named a replacement.
Organizers had been scheduled to release their latest annual financial report on Friday, but the announcement was put on hold until next week because of Poole's death.
The Olympic flame arrives in Canada next week for a relay during which it will cross the country twice before arriving in Vancouver for the February 12 opening ceremony. The Olympics will be followed in March by the 2010 Paralympics.
Poole, who was born in Mortlach, Saskatchewan, was awarded the Order of Canada in 2006.
Reporting by Allan Dowd, editing by Peter Galloway