Furlong leaves Paralympics closing ceremony early to attend luger's memorial
BEFORE the flame had even been extinguished at the Winter Paralympics, Vancouver 2010 chief executive John Furlong was on a helicopter for the saddest duty of a rollercoaster six weeks.
CLOSING ADDRESS: John Furlong speaks during the closing ceremony of the Winter Paralympics before leaving to catch a flight to Nodar Kumaritashvili's memorial service (Getty Images)
Furlong will attend a memorial service for Nodar Kumaritashvili, the Georgian luger killed in a training accident on the opening day of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, on Tuesday.
He had thought he would have to miss the service because of Sunday night's closing ceremony in Whistler but organisers shifted the running order to allow him to speak at the beginning of the event.
Furlong then took a helicopter to Vancouver airport to catch the 18 hour flight to Georgia, taking with him all the condolence books and mementos that were left at a makeshift memorial for Kumaritashvili by Olympic athletes.
"I'm going to meet the family, and it is the right thing to do," he said.
"I would want to go. I think this is obviously a major thing that happened here and it is important for us to be there to the end, to be seen to support the family. It is not something I would have been prepared to put aside."
Vanoc have already confirmed that Kumaritashvili's family - who are said to be suffering financial hardship following the death of their son - will receive a death benefit from an insurance policy that it had bought for all Olympic family members.
Meanwhile, International Paralympic Committee chairman Sir Phillip Craven hailed the Games as the ‘best Winter Paralympics ever' as misty rain made conditions difficult during the closing ceremony, while Furlong earlier added:
"Tonight we take our final steps across the finish line of Canada's Games. Our work is done.
"Paralympians you have dazzled us with your agility, your strength, your endurance, your sportsmanship. You have given us drama and thrills we will never forget."