Furlong preparing for Vancouver plebiscite on Games 

Seven years from this week Vancouver-Whistler Olympics would begin, but hurdles and opponents still to be overcome

Seven years from now millions of people all over the world could be tuning in to see an extravaganza of sport and entertainment as Vancouver hosts the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympic Games on the first Friday in February 2010.

But there are several large hurdles to clear before the Games come to town, including actually winning the right to host them this July in Prague.

Also looming large in the minds of many is the upcoming plebiscite in Vancouver, to be held Saturday, Feb.22.

The Vancouver City vote, the result of a municipal election promise by new Mayor Larry Campbell, is bewildering to many looking at Canada from overseas.

John Furlong, President and Chief Operating Officer at the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation, recently returned from a trip to Kuwait and London.

While in London he spent some time talking to media and top of the list of topics was what the plebiscite was all about.

"I did a lot of media work and most of that was related to the fact that there is a lot of misunderstanding out there about what is going on here in Vancouver, and I wanted to make sure people understood what was going on," said Furlong.

"People are concerned. You know we have been working hard on this for a number of years and it has got people a bit confused.

"I would never be prepared to admit this, but there are quite a few people in the international media who believe we are the front runner, so they don’t really quite understand why we are holding a plebiscite. They see us as having gone through this extraordinary building exercise and see us as having climbed a lot of mountains and built an incredible plan. They know that the technical work has been revered. They know we have a great country and great cities and they just don’t understand why we would do this.

"It isn’t, to be honest, the easiest story to tell."

Furlong said the bid corp. is looking on the bright side. It chooses to see the event as unique in Olympic history and one that will set a precedent if the result is a good one.

"If we are successful we will have done something that no one else has been able to do before and it will say something about us and that has got to be a good thing," said Furlong.

The international media aren’t the only ones watching.

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