In Toronto, Activists Protest as Olympic Reform Forum Begins

Student social activists set up picket lines outside a forum at the University of Toronto as a two-day long forum on "Olympic Reform, A Ten Year Review" kicked off today. The conference which features keynote addresses by International Olympic Committee members and Olympic scholars, including a prominent Canadian member of the IOC, Dick Pound.

While most of those presenting talks are known to support the Olympic movement, at least one well known critic of the IOC, British journalist Andrew Jennings, will speak as well.

Other Olympic critics, such as the University of Toronto's own Prof. Helen Lenskyj, were not included in the program.

Protest organizer Oriel Varga called the forum "a whitewash." Varga said that the choice of speakers suggested that the forum's intent was to give the IOC a pat on the back for having reformed itself after the Salt Lake City Olympics scandals of the late 1990s.

According to Varga, the forum will also serve as a means to advertise Toronto's bid for the 2015 Pan American Games. "Hosting the Olympics, or the Pan American Games, shows just how skewed the priorities really are. The university's mandate is to deliver quality education, not mega sporting events", said Varga.

One session held today will feature Vancouver's 2010 Games with three presentations on the topic of "Vancouver 2010 and Sustainability". Two of these talks will be presented by Dr. Rob VanWynsberghe or his colleagues.

VanWynsberghe was awarded $300,000 by the
IOC to study the impact of the 2010 Games on Vancouver. VanWynsberghe and an organization he helped found, the Impact of Olympics on Communities Coaltion (IOCC), has been criticized by this writer for failing in their self-appointed mission of 2010 Olympics watchdog.

The real fireworks at the conference will occur during Jennings talk tomorrow when he will present a talk entitled "From the IOC Reform to IF Reform: Two Decades of Researching Corruption in International Sport". Jennings is the author of three books detailing IOC corruption.
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