VANOC CEO John Furlong has challenged the CBC public affairs show, The Fifth Estate, to post, uncut, its 90-minute interview with him over the program's probe into the death one year ago of Olympic Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili.
Under fire this week after an email he wrote in 2009 concerning possible injuries on the track surfaced as part of the CBC investigation, Mr. Furlong issued his challenge at an otherwise celebratory event to mark the first anniversary of the 2010 Winter Games.
Critics have suggested that Mr. Furlong should have done more to ensure the track was safe, given his reference in the email to an athlete possibly getting "badly injured or worse", and there have been numerous tough attacks on him in the media.
Mr. Kumaritashvili died during a training run, just hours before the Games began, when he lost control of his sled and was tossed against a metal support pole above the swift track.
Mr. Furlong, the featured speaker at a packed Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon on Friday, noted The Fifth Estate had interviewed him for an hour and a half on the matter. "I would be very happy if they would put that entire interview on the air....Then I think people would see that [these allegations]are not fair".
The Fifth Estate was to air the results of its months-long investigation on Friday night.
Defending his actions, the VANOC chief has said his email was designed to seek re-assurances that everything was being done that should be done to make the high-speed luge track safe. The answer he got back was that VANOC needed to do nothing more than it was already doing, i.e. working under the direction of the International Luge Federation to make all necessary adjustments.
Later, he told reporters that VANOC's team had worked "flat out" with both international sports federations who have jurisdiction over track conditions to prepare it for Olympic competition. "The day the track opened, it was declared safe by every single person responsible for it."
At the outset of his speech on Friday,, an emotional Mr. Furlong admitted that the past week had been "very difficult, waking up every morning seeing the papers and TV, hearing people say things that bite at your heart and your soul and your integrity....I'm still not sure what exactly has happened here."
Mr. Furlong received prolonged standing ovations both before and after his lengthy address reviewing the Games' high and low points.
Saturday has been set aside as a day of renewed celebration of the 2010 Winter Olympics, with many downtown streets closed off on the anniversary of the Games' first day.