John Furlong (sports administrator)

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John Furlong
OC, OBC, LLD (hc), D.Tech (hc)
John Furlong.jpg
chief executive officer of Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games
In office
February 21, 2004[1] – December 31, 2010
Personal details
Born (1950-10-12) October 12, 1950 (age 65)
Tipperary, Ireland
Nationality Irish Canadian
Spouse(s) Margaret Cook (ex-wife)
Deborah Sharp Furlong (deceased)
Children 5
Occupation Sports administrator

John Furlong, OC,[2] OBC[3] (born October 12, 1950)[4] is a Canadian sports administrator. He is the executive chair of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC. He was the president and CEO of VANOC which oversaw the preparation and execution of the 2010 Winter Olympics and 2010 Winter Paralympics Games. Prior to his appointment as the CEO of VANOC, he chaired the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation (2001–2004), president of Arbutus Club, a members-only family club, member of the Canadian Olympic Committee, chair of the BC Summer Games and BC Winter Games, and Sport B.C.[3]

Early life[edit]

While Furlong's biography claims he and his family emigrated to Canada from Ireland in 1974,[5][6] he reportedly arrived in Burns Lake, British Columbia, in 1969 as a Frontier Apostle. During his time in Burns Lake he married Margaret Cook, a kindergarten teacher at Immaculata School, and in June 1970 he and Cook moved to Prince George, British Columbia where their two children were born.[7][8][9]

He was schooled at St. Vincent's C.B.S., Glasnevin, Dublin.[10] He participated in international level in basketball, European handball and squash. He became Canadian Squash Champion in 1986.

Olympic and Paralympic Games[edit]

In the lead-up to the 2010 Winter Games, Furlong chaired the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation (2001–2004). After becoming president and CEO of the Organizing Committee, he was responsible for preparing and marketing the events. Hours before the formal opening of the Olympic Games, Furlong had to begin managing the crisis regarding the controversial death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili. Furlong had been involved in directing improvements to the luge track construction.[11][12][13]


In the aftermath of the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup riot, Furlong was appointed, along with Douglas Keefe, to independently examine the incident and to offer recommendations. The report, The Night the City Became a Stadium: Independent Review of 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Playoffs Riot, was published on September 1, 2011.[14]

On April 11, 2012, Vancouver Whitecaps FC announced the hiring of Furlong as executive chair of the club, a position he currently holds.[15]

Abuse allegations[edit]

On September 26, 2012, the Georgia Strait newspaper published an article by journalist Laura Robinson that reported allegations made by eight of Furlong's former students.[16] The former students alleged that Furlong physically and mentally abused them as children during his time as a physical education teacher at Immaculata School in Burns Lake, B.C. In November 2012, Furlong filed a defamation suit against the Georgia Straight and Laura Robinson.[17] Furlong has since dropped the suit against both plaintiffs but is under legal obligation to reimburse them for legal fees.[18] Robinson, in turn, has filed a defamation suit against Furlong.[19]

On September 27, 2012, Furlong held a press conference to deny allegations of physical and sexual abuse made by several former students while he was a physical education teacher in Burns Lake, B.C. Furlong stated that he had first been made aware of the allegations prior to the Olympics, when he was told that "for a payment it could be made to go away", and that he reported this incident to the police.[20]

On July 24, 2013, two women claiming to be former students of Furlong's launched a civil lawsuit in British Columbia Supreme Court against Furlong, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver, the Roman Catholic Prince George Diocese and the Catholic Independent Schools Diocese of Prince George, alleging that Furlong abused them sexually, physically and verbally and that school officials, the diocese and archdiocese did nothing to intervene.[21] Furlong has formally denied the allegations.[22] A male former student filed suit on September 23, 2013 on similar grounds.[23] In December 2014, one of the female plaintiffs, Beverly Abraham, withdrew her lawsuit after questions arose about whether she actually attended the school taught by Furlong.[24] The lawyer for all three plaintiffs withdrew from representing them.[25][26] The complaint filed by other female complainant, Grace West, was thrown out by a judge in February, while the final of the three lawsuits was dismissed after the complainant failed to appear in court.[24][27]

None of these complainants were involved in Robinson's article, which included eight sworn affidavits that Furlong had physically and psychologically abused at least eight aboriginal children, and led to over 45 people, all aboriginal, who came forward to state that they suffered or witnessed Furlong's abuse.[28]


Furlong recounts his experience leading up to and throughout the Games. In his book Patriot Hearts, he describes how he led the Games through difficulties such as the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, a global recession and the washed out snow at Cypress Bowl.

No mention is made in the book of his time in Burns Lake, the time period he is alleged to have abused First Nations students. Furlong claims in Patriot Hearts that he came to Canada in 1974 and states that he never "denied or purposely omitted speaking publicly of this time"[29][30]


Ribbon of the Order of British Columbia
Skytrain Mk II in the Olympic Spirit of John Furlong

Published works[edit]

  • Furlong, John; Mason, Gary (2011). Patriot Hearts: Inside the Olympics That Changed a Country. Douglas & Mcintyre. ISBN 978-1553657941. 


  1. ^ CBC Sports (February 21, 2004). "Furlong chosen CEO of Vancouver 2010". Retrieved November 19, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Order of Canada Citation". May 6, 2010. Retrieved November 19, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d orderbceditor (January 15, 2009). "Order of BC Citation". Retrieved November 19, 2012. 
  4. ^ "CANOE - Canadian Online Explorer - Canada's news, sports, entertainment, finance and lifestyle site". Retrieved November 14, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Patriot Hearts - D&M Publishers". February 12, 2011. Retrieved November 14, 2012. 
  6. ^ Patriot Hearts: Inside the Olympics That Changed a Country[dead link]
  7. ^ "John Furlong biography omits secret past in Burns Lake | Vancouver, Canada". September 27, 2012. Retrieved November 14, 2012. 
  8. ^ "CBC News, Former Vancouver Olympic CEO denies abuse allegations". September 27, 2012. Retrieved November 19, 2012. 
  9. ^ "B.C. First Nation backs RCMP investigation of Furlong - British Columbia - CBC News". September 28, 2012. Retrieved November 14, 2012. 
  10. ^ Selley, Chris (October 2, 2012). "Chris Selley on the John Furlong affair: How to ruin a reputation". The National Post. Retrieved October 20, 2014. 
  11. ^ Cole, Cam (February 12, 2015). "Five years on, Vancouver Games' tragedy still haunts Olympic organizer". The Financial Post. Retrieved March 17, 2015. 
  12. ^ Mackin, Bob (January 10, 2014). "Luge tragedy remains the darkest legacy of 2010". Metro News. Retrieved March 17, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Excerpts from 'Patriot Hearts' by John Furlong". National Post. February 8, 2011. Retrieved March 17, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Vancouver Riot Review". Retrieved November 19, 2012. 
  15. ^ "John Furlong named executive chair of Whitecaps FC". April 12, 2012. Retrieved April 12, 2012. 
  16. ^ "John Furlong biography omits secret past in Burns Lake". September 26, 2012. Retrieved April 25, 2015. 
  17. ^ "John Furlong Sex Abuse Claim Questioned After Court Documents Revealed". December 30, 2014. Retrieved April 25, 2015. 
  18. ^ "The Laura Robinson Defense Fund". Retrieved April 25, 2015. 
  19. ^ "Robinson Countersues Furlong". January 28, 2014. Retrieved April 25, 2015. 
  20. ^ McKnight, Zoe (September 28, 2012). "Vancouver Sun". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved November 19, 2012. 
  21. ^ "John Furlong's former students file lawsuit against ex-VANOC CEO". July 24, 2013. Retrieved July 24, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Furlong denies abuse allegations in statement of defence - British Columbia - CBC News". Retrieved September 24, 2013. 
  23. ^ "John Furlong, former VANOC CEO, faces 3rd sex abuse lawsuit - British Columbia - CBC News". Retrieved September 24, 2013. 
  24. ^ a b "John Furlong Lawsuit Dropped, Accuser Fails To Appear in Court". The Huffington Post. 
  25. ^ Sherlock, Tracey (December 30, 2014). "Lawyer representing three in abuse claim against John Furlong withdraws from civil cases". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved March 17, 2015. 
  26. ^ Fraser, Keith (January 29, 2015). "Second lawsuit alleging sexual abuse by John Furlong coming apart at seams". The Province. Retrieved March 17, 2015. 
  27. ^ "John Furlong lawsuit dropped after complainant fails to appear in court". March 31, 2015. 
  28. ^ "Jian Ghomeshi, John Furlong Exposés on Alleged Abuse Reveal Media Double Standard". The Huffington Post. Retrieved June 23, 2015. 
  29. ^ Lau, Andree. "John Furlong 'Sets Record Straight' On Abuse Allegations". Huffington Post. Retrieved January 9, 2013. 
  30. ^ "Setting the record straight on my life and my family: John Furlong". October 2, 2012. Retrieved October 20, 2014. 
  31. ^ "Governor General announces 74 new appointments to the Order of Canada". June 30, 2010. Retrieved September 24, 2013. 
  32. ^ COS Admin (January 15, 2009). "2010 Recipient: John Furlong – Vancouver". Retrieved September 24, 2013. 
  33. ^ John Huet (March 1, 2010). "Thank You And Merci Vancouver!". IOC. Retrieved December 19, 2011. 
  34. ^ "The Paralympic Order". Retrieved September 24, 2013. 
  35. ^ "UBC honorary degree citation". Retrieved November 19, 2012. 
  36. ^ BCIT Convocation 2010[dead link]
  37. ^ JIBC News Release[dead link]
  38. ^ a b Nick Rockel. "John Furlong welcomed the world to Vancouver". Retrieved November 19, 2012. 
  39. ^ "Top 25 Canadian Immigrants of 2010 Citation". November 13, 2012. Retrieved November 19, 2012. 
  40. ^ "BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum Citation". Retrieved November 19, 2012. 
  41. ^ "Translink news release, John Furlong, Olympic Spirit honoured on SkyTrain car". September 4, 2012. Retrieved November 19, 2012. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Italy Valentino Castellani
President of Organizing Committee for Winter Olympic Games
Succeeded by
Russia Dmitry Chernyshenko