Friday, July 31, 2009

VANOC's voce del malcontento

Someone at VANOC forgot to issue pom-poms to Lucia Montanarella, the imported from Italy press operations chief for the 2010 Winter Olympics. The VANOC recessionary budget crisis knows no bounds and it's being felt in her department.

According to an Associated Press story that ran July 24, she was quoted as saying: "For Athens and Torino and maybe Barcelona, we all went without high expectations and we enjoyed it more," she said. "With the high expectations for Vancouver, it makes it more difficult to match."

"I think they will be good games," she said. "Not spectacular."

A rare glimpse inside Fortress 2010 or just a disgruntled employee? I say it's the former.

Those comments were what sparked the New Democratic Party to issue a news release on July 31 from Kathy Corrigan, the opposition critic for the Olympics. The headline was "Going for the Gold or Settling for Mediocrity?"

“This is the exact opposite of what the Campbell government has been telling British Columbians about an event they’re spending billions on,” Corrigan said in the release. “Just two years ago, Colin Hansen said the Olympics would be ‘the best Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games that this world has ever seen.’

“British Columbians deserve to know who’s telling the truth about the state of the Olympics,” said Corrigan. “The B.C. Liberals have talked about going for the gold, but statements by senior officials in VANOC seem to suggest they’re going to settle for fourth and out of the medals.”

It's not the first time Montanarella has spoken out about Vancouver's shortfalls. On Feb. 8 told media at the World Alpine Skiing Championships in Val d'Isere, France that the waterfront Main Press Centre at the Vancouver Convention Centre could be a traffic jam waiting to happen.

"There are some issues because of the three sides to it, only one is on the street," she said. "This is a complication being that this will be the main transportation hub."

As shocking as Montanarella's latest quote is, at least she spoke frankly and freely about her job and the organization. VANOC does its best to control its message, by restricting or limiting interview access to key personnel. Often reporters are supplied with manufactured statements. When interviews are arranged, the interview subject is stocked with highly structured talking points.

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