Jack Poole, the chairman of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics organizing committee, has died. He was 76.
Olympic officials said he died Friday in a hospital following a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer.
Poole spearheaded the city’s bid for the Olympics, working for a decade to bring the games to British Columbia. He was also chairman of the Vancouver Olympic organizing committee’s board of directors.
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His death comes one day after the flame for the Vancouver Games was lit in Greece.
In his remarks in Greece, International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge paid tribute to Poole’s efforts to bring the Games together.
Poole was one of British Columbia’s top real estate developers and also known for his philanthropy. He was awarded the order of Canada in 2006, one of the country’s highest honors.
“This is such sad news for us all. Jack was a man of great passion and drive, and we had all hoped and prayed that he would live to experience the Games he played such a major role in securing for Canada,” Vancouver Organizing Committee CEO John Furlong said in a statement.
British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell said Poole helped shape Vancouver and British Columbia and said he was a giant in every way.
Poole leaves behind his wife Darlene, five children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
“Jack was a truly exceptional human being and a great ambassador for the Olympic Movement,” Rogge said in a statement Friday. “His belief in the good that the Olympic Games would bring to Vancouver, British Columbia and Canada was second to none.
“It was his exceptional spirit and wise leadership that saw Vancouver win the Games and that has put the Vancouver 2010 Organising Committee in such a strong position today.”
Rene Fasel, chairman of the IOC coordination commission for Vancouver, also paid tribute to Poole.
“Jack was a key driving force behind the success of the Vancouver 2010 bid, as he was behind the preparation of these Games,” he said. “I am in no doubt that one of Jack’s legacies will be great Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver in 2010.”