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2010 Games social promises ‘not measurable’: IOC official

A top International Olympic Committee official said today social commitments made in Vancouver’s Olympics bid process can’t be measured and aren’t contractual guarantees.

“We have to be careful,” IOC Olympics Games executive director Gilbert Felli told The Tyee in an interview after a press conference. “The guarantees are for fact things.”

In 2002, the Bid Corporation and its government partners released the Inner-City Inclusive Commitment (ICI) Statement. The document contains 37 promises which range from protecting rental housing to ensuring the right to lawfully protest. A copy was included in the Guarantee File of the official bid book.

That same year, a city report suggested the initiative would help Vancouver win the IOC’s approval.

“The Inclusive Games concept is one that has not been evident in previous Olympic Bids, and it is anticipated that this will add a distinctive character and competitive edge to the Vancouver Bid,” the report reads.

When The Tyee asked Felli if VANOC could face ramifications for failing to deliver on any part of the ICI Statement, he suggested the promises are too subjective to be evaluated.

“They’re commitments,” he said. “You commit yourself like in religion…but it’s intangible so it’s not measurable.”

Felli said social goals are different from contractual guarantees such as the provincial government’s pledge to upgrade the Sea-to-Sky highway in time for the Winter Games.

The ICI Statement includes assurances that people won’t become homeless or face higher rents because of the 2010 Olympics – commitments that could be open to interpretation. But it also contains several concrete measures.

One is that the RCMP will lead Games security, a promise that has been fulfilled.

Pledges to hold consultations with inner-city residents before security rules are finalized and work transparently with an independent watchdog group haven’t yet been forthcoming.

Felli pointed out VANOC has made many positive social strides. The committee put aside 100,000 affordable tickets for inner-city residents and allocated $250,000 towards the expansion of Covenant House emergency shelter, according to its most recent sustainability report.

But whether VANOC delivers on every one of its social promises isn’t the IOC’s concern, Felli said.

“At the end – for the IOC – we cannot be involved with social details in a city because it’s not our task,” Felli said. “Our task is to look at sport.”

Geoff Dembicki is a staff reporter for The Hook.

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