Furlong speaks to Canadian municipalities about Games 

VANOC CEO offers rare glimpse of private life


Hundreds of municipal leaders left Whistler this week with a new understanding of what hosting the 2010 Games means to Canada.

They went on tours of the Whistler sporting venues and saw firsthand the legacies the Games will leave behind both for sport and community infrastructure.

But they also glimpsed the passion the Games can bring to a nation - a legacy that can't be touched, only felt.

"This project is about touching lives," John Furlong, CEO of the 2010 Vancouver Organizing committee (VANOC) told over 1,700 delegates to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference this week at the event's closing breakfast.

"If you can (inspire) a child with Olympic values of respect, decency, fair play, how to win and how to lose, and introduce them to athletics there is simply no accounting for the type of person they could become; the leader they could become, the great good they will do in the country going forward.

"This is what a project like this brings to a country - a chance to touch and change every life."

Furlong admitted that the job of putting together a successful Games is one of the most complex in the world.

By Games time there will be 50,000 people working at the event, both volunteer and paid. There will 250 Olympic sites for sports and support services, and three billion people watching the event unfold on television.

With the conference's theme in mind, Partnering for Success, Furlong went on to offer a rare insight into how he has helped keep the organization on even footing for the last 14 years, from the early days of the bidding process.

Furlong is the first CEO of an Olympic organizing committee to work at the top from start to finish.

He credited two main platforms for the organization's success: having a strong vision about the Games uniting the country and making it stronger, and adopting a set of values which help guide the organization.

"I am one of those individuals that believes that without values you have nothing," said Furlong.

Top of the list at VANOC is teamwork.

"Teamwork to me is to put a champion in every job." He said. "Put a champion at every desk. Find great people with great character who wouldn't dare quit and give them responsibility, and just watch what they can do, give them permission to be great."

Team members have to be trustworthy, they have to aspire to be excellent, they must be creative, and they must work in a sustainable manner.

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