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Jacques Rogge (part 1): Shadow of luger's death will never go away

February 25, 2010 | 12:38 pm
Rogge I joined a small group of international journalists whose primary beat is the Olympics for a Thursday breakfast with International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge.  In an hour-long question-and-answer session, he touched on myriad topics, some serious, some lighthearted.

A sampling follows:

Before taking questions, Rogge gave a preliminary assessment of the 2010 Games.

"It's premature to make a final judgment on the Games before they end Sunday.  But we can make a preliminary judgment.

"Of course, the death of [Nodar] Kumaritashvili will cast a shadow over the Games.  That goes without saying, and this is something we are not going to forget."

[Note: the Georgian luger died in a training accident the morning of the opening ceremony.]

"But we owe it to the organizers and the athletes to make a separate judgment on how they performed.  Having spoken to many athletes in the Olympic villages, they are very happy with the village, with the general organization, with the competition and the warm supportive crowds that are not chauvinistic for all the teams.

"Athletes have also heard about the very good ratings on television and for them it's important because they want to have a big audience in their home country.  If you compare to Salt Lake City, which is a fair comparison because it is more or less the same time zone, we have major progress in all the markets, this is very heartening.  Not only in free-to-air, which is traditional television, still very strong, but a huge, huge increase in digital, Internet, video on demand and mobile.'"

On the legacy Vancouver will leave for the Olympic movement:

"The communion of the public with the Games.  From an organizational standpoint, there has not been a sea change.  The involvement of the public definitely is.

"Everyone is very excited by the fantastic atmosphere here -- people partying, having fun.  This is something really unique, that I have seen only in Sydney to a certain extent in 2000, but of course you cannot compare Summer Games with the Winter Games."

And now, some questions and answers:

In your final assessment at the closing ceremony, how will you categorize these Games?

"In general, it will be a positive one."

-- Philip Hersh in Vancouver, Canada

Photo: IOC President Jacques Rogge speaks to reporters on Saturday. Credit: Marcio Sanchez / Asssociated Press