VANCOUVER – Former Vancouver Olympics CEO John Furlong received a standing ovation at a University of British Columbia fundraiser today while a handful of protesters gathered outside to draw attention to abuse allegations against him.
Furlong says in his keynote speech to student athletes that in times of hopelessness and despair, when you feel like the walls are caving in, the only thing that you can rely on is the truth.
The university initially cancelled his speech in December after a graduate circulated an open letter saying the decision to invite Furlong silenced First Nations people in Burns Lake, B.C., who have accused him of abuse.
Furlong has vehemently denied the allegations contained in a 2012 newspaper article that he beat and taunted aboriginal children while working as a gym teacher in the northern community in 1969 and 1970.
University president Santa Ono later apologized to Furlong and reinstated him as speaker.
Ono called him an “icon’” today and thanked him for “graciously bearing with us over the last few months.”