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Olympic villages to have chapels

Athletes will have their own places to pray before or after they play at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

The Vancouver and Whistler Olympic villages will each contain a temporary chapel for scheduled Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim services and prayer meetings.

Chaplains representing the world’s five most common faiths will also be on-call for athletes in need of a spiritual boost.

“Not all of the activity that goes on as far as religious services goes on in the centre,” said village chaplaincy organizer Rev. David Wells. “It’s common to happen in residences as well, or even sometimes in the venues.”

A proposed permanent chapel at Vancouver’s Southeast False Creek Olympic Village was nixed because of the financing crisis, Wells said.

Wells, general superintendent of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, is a director of the Olympic-themed More Than Gold Christian coalition. He was a chaplain at the Victoria 1994 Commonwealth Games and at the Athens 2004 and Torino 2006 Olympics.

He said 70 per cent of Vancouver 2010 chapel users are expected to be Christians. He said it’s common to offer counseling or bereavement, but he’s unaware of any village-dwellers tying the knot at a Games chapel.

There’s always a first time.

“If people made arrangements for the legality of it, some of us are credentialed with the government to perform weddings,” Wells said.

Bob Mackin reports for Vancouver 24 hours.

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