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Georgian Luger Dies in Vancouver
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 13 Feb.'10 / 02:09

21-year-old Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili, died in a crash during training, hours before the opening of Vancouver Olympic Games on February 12.

"We are all in deep shock, we don't know what to do. We don't know whether to take part in the opening ceremony or even the Olympic Games themselves," BBC quoted head of Georgian Olympic delegation Irakli Japaridze.

Nodar Kumaritashvili was reportedly going close to 150 km/h, near the end of the course, when he launched off the track and hit on a metal pole during the final training run.

The track at Whistler, where the tragedy has occurred, has a reputation as one of the fastest and challenging in the world.

Kumaritashvili was rushed into the hospital; doctors were unable to revive the athlete, who died in hospital, officials said.

“Our first thoughts are with the family, friends and colleagues of the athlete.  The whole Olympic Family is struck by this tragedy, which clearly casts a shadow over these Games”, the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Jacques Rogge, said.

“It is a sad day, I have no words to say what we feel,” he said.

Rogge also said that he spoke with Kumaritashvili's family and also phoned President Saakashvili “who is attending the games here in Vancouver.”

"It is a tragedy for his family and the team. It casts a shadow over the opening ceremony," Thomas Bach, the IOC vice-president, said.

International Olympic Committee (IOC), Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee (VANOC) and International Luge Federation said in a joint statement that an investigation was underway into the circumstances of the accident. It said that training was suspended and technical officials were trying to establish the causes.

Georgia's remaining Olympic team consists of three alpine skiers, three figure skaters and another luger, Levan Gureshidze.

Rogge said that the Georgian delegation was still considering whether to continue participation in the games or not.

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