John Furlong (sports administrator)

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John A. F. 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
Leader Jacques Rogge
Preceded by Valentino Castellani
Succeeded by Dmitry Chernyshenko
Personal details
Born (1950-10-12) October 12, 1950 (age 66)
Tipperary, Ireland
Nationality Irish, Canadian
Spouse(s) Margaret Cook (m. 1970–76)
Dayle Turner (1978–82)
Gail Robb (m. 1984–2011)
Deborah Sharp (m. 2012–her death 2013)
Renee Smith-Valade (2014)
Residence Vancouver
Occupation Sports administrator

John Furlong, OC,[2] OBC[3] (born October 12, 1950)[4] is a Canadian administrator of sports organizations widely recognized for overseeing the 2010 Winter Olympics and 2010 Winter Paralympics as President and CEO of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee (VANOC).

Currently, Furlong is the Chairman of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC, a Major League Soccer team.

Born in Ireland in 1950, Furlong first moved to work in the Canadian province of British Columbia from 1969 to 1972. He immigrated to Canada in 1975.[5][6] He cited Canada as being possibly unique in appointing an immigrant to be CEO of their Olympic Games.[7]

Although his performance and popularity led to recognition such as appointments to Order of Canada and Order of British Columbia, he is a controversial figure following the discovery of errors and omissions in his autobiography and legal problems arising from allegations he had abused First Nations students.[8]

Olympic and Paralympic Games[edit]

Furlong chaired the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation (2001–04) and pitched Vancouver in Prague in its bid to the International Olympic Committee to host the Winter Games. He was also president of Arbutus Club, was a member of the Canadian Olympic Committee, and chaired BC Summer Games, BC Winter Games, and Sport B.C.[3]


Furlong is chair of Own the Podium, a Canadian not-for-profit created to develop Canada as a world leader in high performance sport.[7]

In the aftermath of the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup riots, John Furlong and Douglas Keefe provided 53 recommendations in their September 2011 report, The Night the City Became a Stadium: Independent Review of 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Playoffs Riot.[9]

Furlong served as advisor to the organizers of the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George, British Columbia.[7]

In July 2016, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) announced that Furlong will chair the Special Committee for Home Games (SCHG) to assist Calgary if it decides to bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympics.[8][10]

Business activities[edit]

Furlong joined the board of Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc.[5]

In 2016, Furlong and Gareth Rees led Rugby Canada's bid for Vancouver's to host the World Rugby Sevens World Series event.[11][12][13]

Furlong is chairman of Rocky Mountaineer, a rail tourism company based in Vancouver[14] and board member with its owner Armstrong Group Ltd.

Since 2011, Furlong has served as a member of the corporate board of Canadian Tire retailer.

As a paid keynote speaker, Furlong is a member of the National Speakers Bureau.[15]


John Furlong is a controversial figure following revelations of errors and omissions in his autobiography and legal problems arising from abuse allegations.

Biographical inaccuracies[edit]

On February 12, 2011, the one-year anniversary of the Olympics, Furlong published his autobiography Patriot Hearts – Inside the Olympics that Changed a Country.

Furlong lived in Canada from 1969 to 1972 as a Frontier Apostle missionary in Burns Lake and Prince George, British Columbia. During these years, he married and began a family.[16][17][18] His autobiography mentions only that his family immigrated to Canada in 1974; he later changed the date of immigration to 1975 under cross-examination (in Robinson v. Furlong).[6][19] The omission of Furlong's earlier attendance in Canada remains controversial because the timeline coincides with allegations he abused First Nations children while a teacher in Burns Lake. His co-author Gary Mason has stated that Furlong never mentioned the earlier attendance in Canada.[20]

In 1974, the body of Furlong's niece Siobhan Roice was identified by her father Edward "Ned" Roice after she was killed in terrorist bombings in Dublin.[21][22] Furlong's family in Ireland denied the autobiographical claim[23] that Jack Furlong, Furlong's father, identified her body.[5][24]

In 1986, Furlong was an age group winner in a Canadian Squash Championships event.[25] While his professional biographies continue to state he was the 1986 Canadian Squash Champion,[26][27] the title was actually earned by Jamie Hickox.[25]

Abuse allegations[edit]

There were no criminal charges levied against Furlong by the government and three civil claims were cancelled, yet there continues to be high-profile advocacy by First Nations and others for further investigation.

On September 26, 2012, The Georgia Straight published an article that reported allegations that children in the 1970s were physically and mentally abused while Furlong was a physical education teacher at Immaculata Catholic School in Burns Lake.[28] The article, by journalist Laura Robinson, was supported by over 45 statements, including eight affidavits.[28] Robinson response to Furlong's defamation action included additional allegations including statements that he emotionally, physically and sexually abused his first and second wives.[29]

Abuse allegations against Furlong have never been heard nor accepted as evidence in court.[30] Three former students, who were not part of the Georgia Straight story, alleged that Furlong sexually, physically, and verbally abused them.[31][32] In 2013, these three former students filed failed civil lawsuits against Furlong, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver, the Roman Catholic Prince George Diocese, and the Catholic Independent Schools Diocese of Prince George.[32][33][34]

Based on changes in information from interviews by the RCMP with one of the three accusers, a BC Supreme Court Judge concluded that the woman had not actually attended the school where she had accused Furlong of abuse.[35] A second woman dropped her civil case after it was judged unfounded.[35] The third plaintiff, a man, was reported to have already received $120,822 in compensation for a claim against another person at a different school at the same time period as his claim versus Furlong.[35]

First Nations are continuing advocacy for further investigation into the allegations.

In a November 2015 open letter, three First Nations hereditary chiefs and five Furlong accusers called on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to remove John Furlong from Own the Podium pending a hearing of their claims.[36]

In January 2016, a complaint to the Canadian Judicial Council (CDC) sought appeal of a judge's decision due to incorrect information. CDC dismissed the complaint.[37] CDC dismissed the complaint.[38]

In July 2016, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) passed a resolution to pressure the federal government and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to formally investigate multiple abuse allegations against Furlong.[39][40]

In a December 2016 complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, six Northern British Columbia First Nations members formally accused the federal government and RCMP of racial and ethnic discrimination in mishandling their allegations that John Furlong abused them.[41]

In January 2017, the University of British Columbia apologized to Furlong for its cancellation of his keynote speech at a February Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation fundraising event for athletes then reinstated him days later.[42] The president of University of British Columbia spoke with Furlong personally and announced his apology due to his "deep regret" for the impact on Furlong and UBC's insufficient assessment of the cancellation request sent to UBC by an anti-abuse advocate. First Nations had also expressed concerns about Furlong's speaking at UBC event. The cancellation and the apology both received provincial and national news coverage from December to January.[43][44][45][46] [47] [48][49][50]

Defamation lawsuits[edit]

In November 2012, Furlong lodged failed defamation suits against the Georgia Straight newspaper and journalist Laura Robinson.[51] In separate default judgements, Georgia Straight and Robinson were awarded legal costs.[52][53]

In January 2014, Robinson filed a defamation suit against Furlong and TwentyTen Group.[54] In September 2015, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Catherine Wedge dismissed Robinson's claim citing Furlong's qualified privilege to make statements "that might otherwise meet the legal definition of defamation".[55]

Personal life[edit]

John Furlong was schooled at St. Vincent's C.B.S., Glasnevin, Dublin.[56]

In 1970, Furlong married Margaret Cook in Burns Lake British Columbia, Canada.[57] Furlong and Cook are parents to four grown children.[58]

In the late 1970s, Furlong lived with Dayle "Dee" Turner in a three-year common law marriage.[59]

In 1984, Furlong married his third wife Gail Robb, fathered one child, and divorced in 2011.[57]

Furlong and Deborah Sharp were married from 2012 until her death in 2013.[60]

In late 2013, Furlong and Renee Smith-Valade became romantic partners.[61] The couple have shared a home since early 2014.[62]

John Furlong has 5 adult children and 11 grandchildren.[7]


Ribbon of the Order of British Columbia
SkyTrain car 308 designated 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. 


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  4. ^ "CANOE - Canadian Online Explorer - Canada's news, sports, entertainment, finance and lifestyle site". Retrieved November 14, 2012. 
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  6. ^ a b "John Furlong claims he didn't hide Christian missionary past under cross-examination at defamation trial". Georgia Straight Vancouver's News & Entertainment Weekly. June 23, 2015. Retrieved January 1, 2017. 
  7. ^ a b c d Mickleburgh, Rod (December 23, 2010). "John Furlong is Canada's Nation Builder of 2010". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved January 1, 2017. 
  8. ^ a b Maki, Allan (June 23, 2016). "Troubled COC turns to John Furlong to punch up next Olympic bid". The Globe and Mail. 
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  12. ^ Hume, Mark (March 8, 2016). "Vancouver Sevens tournament lays out 'grander vision' for rugby". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved January 2, 2017. 
  13. ^ Dhillon, Sunny (June 25, 2015). "John Furlong, Rugby Canada bid to host international event in Vancouver". Retrieved January 2, 2017. 
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  30. ^ "'I forgive all of it' says John Furlong in first major speech on abuse allegations". CBC News. Retrieved October 13, 2016. 
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  32. ^ a b "John Furlong, former VANOC CEO, faces 3rd sex abuse lawsuit - British Columbia - CBC News". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved September 24, 2013. 
  33. ^ "John Furlong Lawsuit Dropped, Accuser Fails To Appear in Court". The Huffington Post. 
  34. ^ "John Furlong lawsuit dropped after complainant fails to appear in court". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. March 31, 2015. 
  35. ^ a b c Blatchford, Christie (December 30, 2016). "Full Comment - Christie Blatchford: John Furlong's sex-abuse trial by social media". The National Post. 
  36. ^ S; News, y Garossino in; 2015, Politics | November 29 (November 29, 2015). "John Furlong's accusers appeal to PM Trudeau". National Observer. Retrieved December 27, 2016. 
  37. ^ "Former Furlong students file complaint against B.C. Supreme Court judge". National Observer. Retrieved January 26, 2016. 
  38. ^ "Canadian Judicial Council". Retrieved December 28, 2016. 
  39. ^ "Assembly of First Nations 2016 Annual General Assembly, Niagara Falls, ON Final Resolutions Resolution 34/2016: Responsibility to Investigate Allegations of Abuse brought against Mr. John Furlong" (PDF). 2016. 
  40. ^ 2016, Jenny Uechi in News | July 18 (July 18, 2016). "First Nations motion calling for federal probe puts Furlong on defensive". National Observer. Retrieved October 13, 2016. 
  41. ^ "Six aboriginals file complaint with human rights tribunal over John Furlong investigation". Business In Vancouver. Retrieved December 9, 2016. 
  42. ^ CBC News (January 9, 2017). "John Furlong back: UBC president reverses controversial decision". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 
  43. ^ Pynn, Larry (December 29, 2016). "Public anger grows at UBC decision to dump John Furlong as guest speaker". Vancouver Sun. 
  44. ^ Kane, Laura (January 3, 2017). "UBC head Santa Ono 'deeply regrets' cancellation of John Furlong speech". The Globe and Mail. The Canadian Press. 
  45. ^ McCabe, Samantha; Tadepalli, Sruthi. "John Furlong removed from UBC banquet based on letter detailing child abuse allegations". The Ubyssey. Retrieved December 26, 2016. 
  46. ^ McCabe, Samantha; Tadepalli, Sruthi (January 4, 2017). "Furlong gets apology, but won't be reinstated". The UBYSSEY. University of British Columbia. 
  47. ^ "UBC president apologizes for handling of Furlong cancellation". CBC News. January 3, 2017. 
  48. ^ Mason, Gary (January 3, 2017). "Opinion: John Furlong has won the right to get on with his life". The Globe and Mail. 
  49. ^ Blatchford, Christie (January 3, 2017). "Opinion: UBC's tidy apology to John Furlong doesn't right the wrong". National Post. 
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External links[edit]

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