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Canada's Governor General to open 2010 Winter Olympics

Canada's Governor General Michaelle Jean said yesterday that she is proud to officially open the 2010 Winter Olympic Games to be hosted by Vancouver next year.

Jean said in a statement that "it is in a spirit of solidarity and with great enthusiasm" for the country to prepare to welcome youth and the world for the Winter Games.

She added that she is confident that the gathering will become "a celebration of winter, sports excellence and fellowship", and she is "pleased to be a part of it."

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the news in a statement, saying Jean is "a distinguished and inspiring representative for our country both on the world stage and here at home."

"We are delighted and honored that Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean will open the 2010 Olympic Winter Games," John Furlong, head of the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee (VANOC) said.

The Olympic charter states that the head of state for a host country declares the Games open. Furlong said in this case the Governor General has been designated to represent the Queen, who is Canada's official head of state.

Furlong said the Canadian government has made a formal request last month to invite the Queen to open the Games but has not got any reply.

VANOC spokeswoman Renee Smith-Valade said "we respect that many considerations would have been taken before designating the Governor General and we are honoured to welcome Michaelle Jean," the Queen declared the Olympic Games open in Montreal in 1976.

The Vancouver Winter Games will open on Feb. 12.


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