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Olympic organizers take a beating

VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, commonly referred to as VANOC, is coming under increased criticism at its daily press briefings about shortcomings at the games. 

Tuesday's presser was no exception. VANOC insists that some issues – like those related to the warm weather – are simply out of its control. But other complaints have VANOC on the defensive.

Things such as the fact that bus drivers, who are supposed to be shuttling ticket holders to events, have been getting lost on their way to the venues. And that shuttle buses have been breaking down and have to be replaced. There also have been a lot of complaints about long lines at concession stands.

Image: Olympic Flame burns in the cauldron situated behind a wire fence
Mark Ralston / AFP - Getty Images
The Olympic Flame burns in the cauldron situated behind a wire fence next to Canada Place in downtown Vancouver on Monday. 

The Olympic torch cauldron has been a major point of contention. The cauldron stands behind a chain-link fence. It's not only unsightly, but it makes it extremely difficult for Olympic fans to take photos of. One reporter called the barricade in front of the torch "a tacky looking prison-type fence" that blocks the public's view of the Olympic torch.

At Tuesday's briefing VANOC said it is close to unveiling a plan to address complaints that the cauldron is inaccessible to the public and will likely announce it on Wednesday.

Another reporter noted that lots of VIP sections at the events are empty, while regular folks can't get tickets to some of these events.

One reporter even asked if this was the "worse beginning of the games ever?"

VANOC's response to most of these questions was: It is doing its best and the vast majority of people are enjoying the games and are not experiencing the negative things that international reporters are looking at.

The International Olympic Committee is standing by VANOC's claim that these are well-organized games and the majority of spectators are happy. IOC also said it hopes better weather is on the horizon.

VANOC took some pride that it was able to get the Cypress Mountain competition areas ready despite the challenging weather.

The organization also said they created the schedule of events with a good deal of flexibility built in, so they are confident that all the events will eventually take place.

Finally, when Mark Adams, the director of communication for the IOC, was asked if the organization had any regrets about holding these Winter Games in such temperate conditions, he responded with an emphatic "No."