No photography ban around Games venue, Olympic security unit says

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      The streets and sidewalks surrounding the Vancouver Olympic Centre are not off-limits to photography, according to a spokesperson for the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit.

      “Basically, there’s no rule saying that photos can’t be taken from the public, because we have no control over that,” RCMP Const. Carol Blannin said yesterday (February 10) by phone. “Once you’re inside the venue, then there are definite rules for each venue, per se.”

      Blannin made her comments the day after this Georgia Straight journalist heard a very different message while circumnavigating the 2010 Olympics’ curling venue at Hillcrest Park.

      First, a yellow-jacketed man behind a gate told me that objects inside the security fence were off-limits for photography, regardless of the fact that I was standing on the Ontario Street sidewalk.

      Later, a Vanoc transportation attendant asserted that the unfenced stretch of Midlothian Avenue bordering the venue was within the security “perimeter”, and therefore closed to photography.

      “Sorry, I’ll just have to escort you out,” she told me in an exchange caught on video.

      According to Blannin, these instructions didn’t originate from VISU.

      The constable said that, since Midlothian isn’t behind the security fence, it’s not part of the “immediate security zone” and “not under actual lockdown”. People can feel free to take photographs from any public space that doesn’t have a fence around it, she confirmed.

      Blannin said she thinks that “mixed messages” regarding the rules on photography at Olympic venues may be going around.

      “Unfortunately, I think a lot of the security people, they’ve been given certain things that they should be looking for, and some may not just realize that, hey, that person’s outside of the venue and, no, they can’t really tell them what they can and can’t do,” she said. “So, it’s unfortunate that you were told you couldn’t, because basically, if you can see something from the public side, you can take your photos.”

      Blannin noted that Olympic venue staff get their instructions from Vanoc.

      “The private people may have some different information being given to them by their supervisors, whereas with our security issues, like, we can’t stop you from being outside,” she said.

      As of this afternoon (February 11), Vanoc had not responded to a request made yesterday for an interview to clarify its rules on photography around Olympic venues.

      You can follow Stephen Hui on Twitter at

      See also: Photos: Olympics bring security checkpoints, fences, and closures to Vancouver



      Maurice Cardinal

      Feb 11, 2010 at 3:39pm

      Where have I hjeard this before?

      Oh yeah, in the late 90's when record companies said we couldn't trade MP3's online.


      Feb 11, 2010 at 5:39pm

      Yeah, a bunch of misinformed employees. It happens... No matter where you go, you occasionally encounter it..
      This deserves a distinction though, if those employees were informed that. Vanoc is not approaching security in a pro-rights way. They're tackling it in the opposite direction. Weird, little fascists, they are... They think it's still the Chinese Olympic games, don't they? Oh, how they must have loved China!

      W. K. Lis

      Feb 15, 2010 at 7:41am

      When did North Korea annex Vancouver?