The Chairperson of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Coordination Commission plays a very important role in the success of any Games. They are the man or woman charged by the IOC President with ensuring that the Games work. They must bring together the Organising Committee with the other Olympic stakeholders, such as the athletes, the International Federations and the National Olympic Committees – all of whom are represented on the Coordination Commission - in order to ensure that the Games are of the highest quality for the athletes of the world. Over the past seven years, René Fasel has been the man overseeing Vancouver’s progress, so Olympic.org decided to ask him a few questions about his Vancouver Games experience.
Olympic.org: This was your first time as head of a Coordination Commission. How do you feel now that it’s nearly at and end?
René Fasel: It was a fantastic experience. I was greatly honoured when President Rogge asked me to leadthe Commission for Vancouver back in 2003, but I had no idea just how hard but enjoyable it would be. I’ve been able to work with great partners at VANOC and here in Canada, as well as learn from the great Games knowledge of my colleagues on the Commission. We’ve worked hard together for seven years to make this project a reality and I’m delighted to see that it is now within touching distance and in good shape.
Olympic.org: What is the biggest challenge that a Coordination Commission Chairman faces?
René Fasel: I think that it’s difficult to generalise because each Games will have their own peculiarities. However, I would say that something that each Commission must face is the multitude of different groups and stakeholders that must all be brought together in order for the Games to be a success. The Games are a highly complex endeavour to undertake, so you need to make sure that the local organisers are working closely with their government partners, local transport partners, local interest groups, sponsors, etc., as well as ensuring that the Olympic family stakeholders, like the athletes, the NOCs and the IFs, as well as the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) are being properly integrated into the discussions, as they are the groups that are at the very heart of what we are trying to achieve. Without the athletes, there are no Games; without the NOCs, we have no teams and no spectators from abroad; without the IFs, we have no sport, as they are responsible for qualifications and the sporting competition at Games time; and without the IPC, there can be no Paralympic Games. It can sometimes be overwhelming, but thankfully, as in sport, the Games are a team effort and we have had an exceptional team here in Vancouver.
Olympic.org: Is Vancouver ready for the Games?
René Fasel: Yes! The athletes are being welcomed in state-of-the-art Olympic Villages, with world-class venues for competition. Nearly all the tickets have been sold and the region is really looking like an Olympic host. It is true that, with the Olympic Games, you can never say what the outcome will be until they actually start, but what I am 100% sure of is that they have been well planned and that everything that could have been done has been done to make these Games truly top class. I can’t wait to see the final result.