Up close with John Furlong 

Vancouver Organizing Committee's CEDO outlines the coming year's challenges as 2010 draws near

By Clare Ogilvie

Three years to go and counting. This year will see seven of the Olympic venues finished, the mascot unveiled, the ticketing plan announced, and the 2010 Vancouver Organizing Committee’s first sustainability plan revealed.

As the Games plan moves from planning to operations VANOC’s top gun, CEO John Furlong, offered some insights into how things are going.


Pique: VANOC unveiled its three year countdown clock this week. What does it represent?

Furlong: ...This clock will be a reference point for everybody who walks by it that this project is on a time line.... It will be the first really graphic example that this is all actually happening, that it is being built around us and that the City of Vancouver and the Municipality of Whistler, West Vancouver, and Richmond, that they are all fully engaged in this project and it will be a daily reminder that it won't be just like going about our daily business anymore.

I think it will be a reminder to everyone that we are all in this together.


Pique: How are you feeling with just three years to go until Games time?

Furlong : I feel good. I think the organization has a little bit of a spring in its step today. I think the focus is much more on the finish line now than where we started.

You can feel the project moving quickly today. This year we have a lot to do. By the end of the year we have to have our ticketing program pretty well ready to go, we have to have our volunteer program moved along quite a bit, we launch the mascot this year, and we will put out our first sustainability report in the coming month. As these things start to happen the project will just be more operational. People will have a sense of how the project is touching the community and touching others so by the end of this year it will almost feel like the Games are just a whisper away.


Pique: Moving from the planning stage of a Games to the operations stage can often be fraught with problems. How is VANOC planning for the transition?

Furlong: If you take Whistler as an example, all of the athletic facilities in Whistler will be completed this year, so there will be a very high degree of awareness of what this project looks like, and we will start the process of training people and developing a full understanding of how these venues have to be managed and run. We gave ourselves a lot of time so that we could hit the ground running (moving) from the planning phase to the operation phase.

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