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VANOC spins again

Do you feel out of the loop when it comes to knowing how your life will be impacted during the Olympics? There may be a good reason for that.

Do you feel out of the loop when it comes to knowing how your life will be impacted during the Olympics? There may be a good reason for that.

The Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee is getting downright Machiavellian over its attempts to control the flow of information to the public. Or perhaps Daliesque is more appropriate, since melting clocks and strangely morphed animals would not seem out of place in the surreal world VANOC created as it herded media to the latest transportation plan update this week.

In reaction to VANOC's invitation to corridor and Mainland media to attend a 2010 transportation presentation at their head office in Vancouver, we at The Chief said: "Finally, some answers."

Not so fast. The measures used to provide details on Sea to Sky travel during the 2010 Winter Games seem oddly reminiscent of China's attempts to control media during the 2009 Summer Olympics.

First, we're told, to get the plan, we have to agree not to run the story until Wednesday - an embargo, as it's called. OK, sure, not an unheard-of practice. We're agreed. However the next stipulation had us scratching our heads. We are told we cannot quote anyone actually presenting the information. And before a reporter can enter the room where the presentation takes place, they must read and sign a document agreeing they won't name anyone in the room. The Chief's reporter is unsure whether the document also stipulated that she could not report on the stipulations because she was not allowed to keep a copy of this apparent contract. Dizzy yet?

VANOC doesn't bother to explain why they felt the need to take such oddly secretive measures, especially since the briefing relayed so very few details about corridor travel. (Information booklets with further details specifically for corridor residents won't be available until next fall, we're told.)

Security can be nixed as a reason for such highly bizarre media methods since policing was not part of the meeting. In fact, no security personnel were on hand to deliver this aspect of the plan (are we allowed to say who wasn't there?).

But VANOC does realize media needs to attribute its information somewhere, so on Wednesday, its spokespersons generously held yet another press conference -this one for attribution, complete with a news release that would presumably include neat little sound bites exclaiming how hard VANOC has worked to make these the most accessible Olympics ever.

Unfortunately the truth is not so peachy - especially for residents of Squamish. No amount of spin will help that. However spin may help keep the grumbling from growing into full-blown fury.

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