Luge federation wants Whistler track details kept secret
The International Luge Federation (FIL) is arguing that the British Columbia Information and Privacy Commissioner should refuse to release documents about the Whistler Sliding Centre where a 20-year-old Georgian luger was killed at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Nodar Kumaritashvili was killed when his luge flew out of the last turn of the track and he struck a steel post in a training run one day before the start of the Games.
A letter written by the FIL legal counsel speculates on what could happen if such a fatal accident happened again.
It says if certain information about the track is made public, it will "result in international federations not being forthcoming in cooperating with authorities should a similar tragedy take place in the future on Canadian soil."
The FIL is trying to keep secret certain documents being sought by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
The FIL's submission goes on to say that if these documents are released, it will "reconsider awarding future competitions to Canada."
David Kumaritashvili told Georgian TV that he no longer wishes to talk about his son’s death.
But the luger's uncle and coach, Felix Kumaritashvili, is surprised by the FIL’s statement.
"I wonder what kind of documents do exist that might prohibit Canada to host such championships," he told Georgian TV.
"That’s a pretty heavy handed position," says the CBC’s Bob McKeown, whose report on The Fifth Estate last year exposed the concerns VANOC officials had about a bad accident happening on its track. "There must be something pretty damning in these documents we’re trying to get for them to make threats like that."
There just might be.
The FIL says the release of the information the CBC is seeking "would reverberate throughout the sports world."
Documents previously released to the CBC though a freedom of information request revealed apprehension before the 2010 Games about the speed and difficulty of the track, requests for changes demanded by the luge federation that were apparently never made, and emails addressing the possibility of a serious injury "or worse" at the Whistler Sliding Centre.
A request for comment from the FIL was not returned.
But the Canadian Luge Association did supply a written response to the CBC when asked what it though of the FIL’s statement.
"As the international governing body of luge, we have always had complete faith and trust in the decision making of the FIL in the past, and have no doubt they will continue to make the right decisions with the best interest of all national federations in mind well into the future," said the CLA statement.
It could be weeks before the British Columbia Information and Privacy Commissioner delivers a ruling.