Olympic athletes queue patiently to sign Kumaritashvili memorial
OLYMPIC athletes are queuing up to sign a book of tributes to Georgian luge slider Nodar Kumaritashvili, who died during training in Whistler last week.
TRIBUTES: Olympic athletes have been signing books of condolences and laying flowers at impromptu memorials in the athletes' village, said organisers Vanoc (Getty Images)
The International Olympic Committee plan to present the books of condolences to the parents of the 21-year old at the conclusion of the Games.
In addition, the five official flags at the Whistler Sliding Centre are now flying at half mast adjacent to corner 16, when the incident took place.
Meanwhile in the Whistler athletes' village, a statue of the Olympic rings has become an impromptu memorial, with flowers, flags and photos left by competitors and officials.
Vancouver 2010 organisers Vanoc also revealed they were liaising with Canadian authorities about speeding up the process for the return of Kumaritashvili's body to Georgia.
"We've taken measures in the last 24 hours to expedite the legal process for the return of his remains from Canada," said Vanoc spokesman Renee Smith-Valade
"We are also talking with the authorities at Vancouver airport about the opportunity for further memorial when that happens."
IOC president Jacques Rogge and Vanoc chief executive John Furlong spent time with the Georgian delegation yesterday, including Kumaritashvili's uncle, a coach on the team.
Kumaritashvili’s parents have also been talking about their loss for the first time.
"Our hearts are broken," said father David, a former luge slider who competed for the Soviet Union.
"He was so young, his whole life was ahead of him.
“His whole life he wanted to be an athlete, it was his dream to be at the Olympics. He was so excited about going; I've never seen him so excited in his entire life."
Asked if he had seen the incident, with organisers the IOC are working to remove from websites around the world, he added: "I can't watch how it happened. My heart is weak, I don't think I could survive watching.”
Meanwhile, at Vanoc's daily news briefing, organisers were forced to apologise for problems with food concessions at the freestyle skiing venue at Cypress Mountain, after issues with generators left hundreds of spectators without access to food or drink.
Smith-Valade also defended Friday’s opening ceremony against allegations it did not include enough references to Canada’s French community.
Federal Heritage Minister James Moore claimed ‘there should have been more French’ during an interview with Canadian television, adding: "I thought the opening ceremonies were brilliant, beautiful, spectacular on television — but there should have been more French, period, full stop.”
"In our opinion, we have given equal voice to English and French artists and production teams," said Smith-Valade.