Luger's family gets Olympic insurance funds

The family of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, who died at the 2010 Winter Olympics, will receive insurance money through the Vancouver organizing committee.

The family of a Georgian luger who died at the 2010 Winter Olympics will receive insurance money through the Vancouver organizing committee.

The committee had insurance policies for the 5,000 athletes and officials who were at the Games, as well as others.

The policy will pay out an undisclosed sum to Nodar Kumaritashvili's relatives, the chief executive of the committee said.

"We had a program that will cause a benefit to be paid to the family at some point," said John Furlong.

The committee had the insurance policies to fulfil a requirement that they provide free health care for Olympic participants. It added coverage for accidental death or dismemberment to the policies, which also covered the return of Kumaritashvili's remains to Georgia.

Several of the insured made use of the in-country medical care, including a limited number of cases for hospital treatment, but the committee said it had received no other injury claims against the policy to date.

Skier injured

A number of athletes were injured in training and competition, including Slovenian cross-country skier Petra Majdic. She broke four ribs and suffered a collapsed lung after falling off the course and into a creek bed during training.

While the Slovenian team was reportedly considering filing a negligence lawsuit, Kumaritashvili's father said in February he was not considering doing the same.

All athletes at the Games sign a legal-liability waver that says they participate "at my own risk and … I will take all reasonable measures to protect myself from the risks of participation."

Kumaritashvili, 21, died on a training run at the Whistler Sliding Centre, a crash that cast a pall over the first day of the Olympics and raised serious questions about whether the course was too dangerous.

Officials insisted it wasn't, but after the accident they modified the final curve where he crashed, erecting a wooden wall over the steel beams and moving the men's start for luge competition.

Furlong said he is also trying to decide whether he'll be able to attend a memorial service for Kumaritashvili in Georgia later this month. He said he received a letter from the family inviting him.

"The difficulty is it's within 48 hours of the [Paralympic] closing ceremonies and logistically on paper it's impossible," he said. "But I'm trying to figure out a way I can do it."

The committee is also looking at whether it will also donate to a campaign begun by the International Luge Federation to help Kumaritashvili's family.

"We haven't yet decided what else we are going to do, and when the Games are over we will look at that and see," said Furlong.

According to the president of the Georgian luge federation, "the family is in urgent need of financial support." 

The international luge body said last week it had already sent $13,675 US to the family. The federation, along with the IOC, is also involved in building a sliding centre in Bakuriani, Georgia, that will be named after Kumaritashvili.

Along with the B.C. coroner's office and the RCMP, the federation is conducting its own review of the incident and expects to finish a report by mid-April.