PK IOC, VANOC – Rogge, Furlong – zum Tod von Nodar Kumaritaschwili

(c) IOC, VANOC

VANCOUVER, Feb 12 – Comments from Mark ADAMS (GBR), director of communications for the International Olympic Committee, Jacques ROGGE (BEL), president of the IOC and John FURLONG (CAN), VANOC CEO, at a press conference at the Main Press Centre on Friday.

Mark ADAMS (GBR) – IOC director of communications

„It is with great regret that we confirm the death of the Georgian Luge athlete Nodar KUMARITASHVILI (GEO), during the final training session at The Whistler Sliding Centre this morning. Mr KUMARITASHVILI (GEO) died after crashing on the last corner of the course during training. Doctors were unable to revive the athlete who later died in hospital. I would now like to ask the President of the IOC Jacques ROGGE (BEL) to make a statement.“

„We will take a very limited number of questions. I should reiterate that the investigation is underway into the accident and it would be premature for us to comment on those circumstances right now. So just a few questions.“

On the impact the accident will have on the Vancouver 2010 Luge programme:

„We will bring you more information on that when we have it. At this stage I think it would be premature to talk about the investigation.“

Jacques ROGGE (BEL) – president of the IOC

„Sorry, it’s a bit difficult to remain composed. This is a very sad day. The IOC is in deep mourning. Here you have a young athlete who lost his life pursuing his passion. He had a dream to participate in the Olympic Games. He trained hard and he had this fatal accident. I have no words to say what we feel. We have been phoning and contacting the National Olympic Committee of Georgia. We have contacted the family. I just had a phone call with the President of the Republic who is also attending the Games here in Vancouver and we are taking all actions to be able to show sympathy with the athletes.“

On the impact the accident will have on the Vancouver 2010 Luge programme:

„The investigation is underway with the officials of the International Luge Federation and we will see in proper time when we have the report what action will be taken.“

On whether, after speaking with Georgian officials, the rest of the team will remain to compete in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games:

„The decision is not final and they are considering, considering participating but they have not confirmed yet.“

On whether other teams have expressed concern about The Whistler Sliding Centre track:

„Again, we have acted upon the news of this accident. At this stage the International Federation is liaising with its own officials and own team leaders. There will be a meeting with team leaders in this respect, but I have no further news on that.“

On whether it’s important in the future to have a track that is not as challenging as this one, to accommodate the less-experienced athletes:

„I understand your question and will be ready to debate or deliberate that with you at the proper time. I’m sorry. This is a time for sorrow. It’s not a time to look for reasons. That will come in time.“

John FURLONG (CAN) – VANOC CEO

„Nodar KUMARITASHVILI (GEO) came to Canada with hopes and dreams that this could be a magnificent occasion in his life. I’m told by members of his federation that he was an incredibly spirited young person and he came here to be able to feel what’s it like to be able to call yourself an Olympian. As you’ve heard, he was in a tragic accident and he has passed away from his injuries. We are heartbroken beyond words to be sitting here. I am so sorry to be in this position, to be reporting this to you. It’s not something that I have prepared for, that I ever thought I would need to be prepared for. My team has been devastated by this and our thoughts and our prayers are now, of course, with Nodar’s family, his friends, the athletes from Georgia and we turn now to do everything we can to assist them, to support them and to help them in the most Canadian way that we can. The accident is tragic. It will be investigated and when we know the substance of what happened, you will know it.“