All faiths represented at Olympics

Published December 1, 2008

The dream of a freestanding, permanent multifaith centre in the heart of Vancouver in time for the 2010 Olympics (October Journal editorial) has remained a dream.

That centre was to serve the multi-faith community well after the Olympics are over.

The editorial indicated that a $25 million multi-faith worship centre was being built in downtown Vancouver. That was the hope of the Olympics organizing committee. The inter-faith group behind the ambitious proposal said a permanent building will not be realized because it simply  lacks the funds to build it. Instead there will be temporary facilities in both Vancouver and Whistler.

The Vancouver organizing committee recently told Canwest News Service that it is privately negotiating with a variety of Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu groups about which individual clergy will be allowed to temporarily provide direct support to the more than 5,500 Olympic athletes and officials who will be attending the Vancouver Winter Games.

Tim Morrison, managing director of the Olympic villages in Vancouver and Whistler, acknowledged to Canwest that it is potentially “difficult” to negotiate with an array of leaders from five major world religions about which of their clergy will be invited to serve as chaplains to athletes.

Even though most Winter Olympic athletes come from predominantly Christian and secular countries, the International Olympic Committee requires that every host country provide spiritual services to adherents of the world’s five major religions: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism.


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