Friday, February 12, 2010

I'm not dreading the Olympics

Allow me to digress from writing about vintage-related matters to talk about my views on the Olympics, seeing as there's less than an hour to the start of the Opening Ceremonies.

Over the past few days, there have been several news articles making their way round the internet saying how Vancouverites are either dreading or ambivalent towards the Olympics and are generally grumpy for the entire month of February. Actually, the majority of Vancouverites have an attitude of accepting indifference with a small amount of bitterness beneath the surface.
In the seven years since Vancouver got the Olympics, I have seen first hand the amount of fervour and corruption that have been leading up to a two week party held mostly for people who don't live here. Since finding out that we had won the bid, my feelings towards the Olympics have been (in order): excitement, sarcasm, annoyance, anger, frustration, rage, indifference and finally since the House of Commons was shut down, bitterness.
Now, my bitterness is not towards the Games or the events going on around town, but instead of the past seven years of build up to the Olympics. And here are the basic reasons why:

  1. Before the bid was won, VANOC (the City's Olympic committee and in charge of everything) said that the Games would cost $660 million with a $10 billion return. The Olympics have now cost between $6 billion and $10 billion, a lot of which went to bribes and to entertaining foreign businessmen and gaining corporate sponsorship in the hopes of stimulating investment here (Vancouver is now being promoted as a world class city or the Toronto of the Pacific Rim) and I shall be paying this tab for the rest of my natural life and I cannot even afford tickets to any of the sporting events.
  2. Vancouverites have often referred to the Olympics as a Five Ring Circus. This is because the preparation for the Olympics have been so heavily mismanaged that no one was really surprised about that dreadful accident today on the luge, since we expected something like that to happen, though no one will admit to it. The construction contracts were handed out to anyone who could build things for the cheapest labour and equipment available.
  3. The Canada Line, the first rapid transit line from downtown to the airport in North America. This cost over a billion dollars and five years to build. In order to do so, Cambie Street, one of the major roads here, was shut down for so long because the contractors decided against using the normal method of tunnelling and instead dug several huge holes at the major intersections and drilled down to build it. The resulting effect put dozens of established small businesses out of business and caused traffic jams for the better part of four years since no one could access Cambie Street, let alone shop there.
  4. Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party Stephen Harper (he's the one who looks like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in a bad wig) has not been in Parliament since October, when he decided that instead of answering questions about his failure as hypercritical Prime Minister, he ought to go on a grand tour of Asia and mention "Olympics" in every other sentence. On New Years, he announced that he would prorogue the democratically elected Parliament for three months until March so that MPs could focus on the Olympics (which only last two weeks) and on the economy. He also put a lock on the doors to the House of Commons. The real reason why he decided that he wanted to become a dictator was so that he could avoid questions about torture in Afghanistan, cancel funding to public services and the military, stuff the Senate (the Upper House or the House of Lords) with even more Tory party members and avoid a vote of confidence which would have toppled his minority government and force an election close to the Olympics.
  5. The amount of money spend on preparing for the Olympics could have been spent on eliminating homelessness in Vancouver. Like almost every city, we have a huge homelessness problem in Vancouver, centred around the Downtown East Side. This problem has been on the rise since Expo '86, which was the last time we had a world event here. The reason why it is such a huge problem here is because Vancouver is such a small city (only 2.5 million people in the entire Metro area) which serves to only amplify the problem.
  6. That Logo. I have no idea why it was selected since the inukshuk is used by the Inuit and they don't live here, they live thousands of km north east from here. I also think that not only is it insulting to the First Nations who live here (the four local Nations are already pissed off because they aren't being compensated for the Olympic events being held on their land) but also a creepy smiling inukshuk doesn't reflect Vancouver, an orca or an umbrella would have been a better choice. I know that there is an inukshuk here, but that was built for Expo '86 and the fisheries ministry released a report early last year stating that the rocks that the artist had chosen to build it react badly to the rain and is now leeching poisonous substances into the ocean and killing the fish.
Those are the major reasons why I'm bitter about the lead up to the Olympics. I'm quite excited, however, for the Games themselves. Or at least for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies (which I fear will be an embarrassing spectacle) and for all of the free events that will be happening around town. I'm not looking forward to the huge crowds of tourists coming here or the riots if Canada looses both of the gold medal hockey games.

I do however hate the Olympics for one thing and that is that they will be mediocre. You see, over the past seven years, the glory and opportunity of the Olympics have been so heavily promoted within BC that I am expecting, not unreasonably, that the clouds will open and candy and Starbucks gift cards will rain down upon me and unicorns will hand out medals during the awards ceremonies. Since this will not happen, I will find the Olympics to be disappointing and the past seven years to be for nought.

That all being said, I have polished my shoes, bought extra batteries for the camera and will promise to be on my best behaviour for the next two weeks. What I would like to ask of you dear readers, is how Vancouver is portrayed on your local coverage of the Olympics? I'm dying to know what you think of our little town.

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