coa votes 

By Bob Barnett They were pursued all week. They mingled with Maurice and Henri Richard Friday night. On Saturday morning some were moved to tears by emotional speeches and some were bored to tears by long-winded speeches. By Saturday afternoon, after the 73 Canadian Olympic Association delegates had cast their 13 ballots behind closed doors in a Toronto hotel, there was a collective sigh of relief, but no one would venture a guess as to whether Quebec City, Calgary or Vancouver-Whistler will win the right to bid for the 2010 Winter Olympics when the ballots are counted on Dec. 1. Swifter, Higher, Stronger may be the Olympic moto but Cautious and Calculating is the theme for all involved in the Olympic bid process. The Vancouver-Whistler bid team, after counting and re-counting the COA delegates it knows supported them and the undecided voters it thinks were swayed, is quietly confident of its chances. John Johnston feels Vancouver-Whistler received just under 50 per cent of the votes on the first ballot and will win on the second ballot, after the third place vote getter — likely Calgary — drops off the ballot in the second round. But trying to predict how the COA delegates voted might be better left to psychics. Johnston estimates that 50 per cent of the delegates didn’t make up their mind which city to vote for until after they saw the presentations Saturday morning. He also believes half of the delegates didn’t read the bid books each city submitted in mid-October. In fact, there were probably 73 different interpretations of each of the three bids. What Adrianne Bride of the Canadian Tenpin Federation was looking for in a winter Olympic bid may have differed from what a veteran COA board member like Dennis Toews sought. Former track cyclist Curt Harnett was one of six athlete representatives who voted Saturday. While unwilling to discuss who he supported, he said the athlete representatives met earlier, discussed each bid and wanted to do what was best for the athletes. The Toronto resident also mentioned the value of athletic facilities in the east, something the Quebec bid emphasized. While many delegates decided to keep who they supported a secret, Alpine Canada announced the day before the vote that it was going to back the Calgary bid. Alpine Canada President Patrick LaForge said the support for Calgary came on the recommendation of a five-member technical advisory team which reviewed the alpine skiing facilities of each bid. The committee included LaForge, Ken Read and Gerry Rinaldi, all of Calgary, Vancouver’s Dave Pym and Claude Savard of Quebec. Alpine Canada’s head office is in Calgary. Asked why Alpine Canada decided to make public its support for Calgary LaForge said, "We felt we have a leadership responsibility on behalf of the sporting community, not just one sport. We announced on behalf of all sports who see Alpine Canada as a leading sport." He also said the ski association concluded its decision could never be kept secret. Freestyle Canada’s vote — for Vancouver-Whistler — was determined by the association’s board members. Interpreting remarks following the vote didn’t shed too much light on the situation, either. Toews, who prior to the weekend announced his support of Vancouver-Whistler because he thought it was the bid with the best chance of winning internationally, stood up in the closed-door session prior to the voting and told the other COA delegates he thought it was important to support a bid which could win internationally. IOC vice president Dick Pound reportedly then stood up and said he agreed with Toews’ remarks about the importance of international winnability, but he didn’t tip his hand as to which bid he thought that was. On Dec. 1 the delegates’ votes will be counted and the results released. Latest word as Pique went to press was that the vote count would be released at 9:30 a.m. Pacific Time Dec. 1 and a live broadcast of the announcement would be available for all in the conference centre.

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