I must admit, I am not always the greatest fan of the Olympics. While the ideal is great, the execution leaves something to be desired.
Firstly there is the IOC, which is as big a gang of crooks, hangers- on and general free-loaders as can be seen anywhere outside the European Parliament or the UN.
Then there is the Opening Ceremonies, which other than the entrance of the athletes tends to be a cringe-worthy production put on by a politically correct “artistic director” whose script was a leftover from a childrens book. Vancouver’s opening ceremony was no different, lots of bessings from Indian Tribes, who while an important part of the Canadian Mosaic, certainly are no more important than any other group.
Then there is the sheer cost of the spectacle. I can think of many things that we should be spending money on, rather than developing venues for sports such as ski jumping or bobsled, which are not sports that are ever going to be widely practiced and so, in my mind, don’t really provide any value as a “lasting legacy”. The sheer cost of providing security for the athletes in our current world of terrorism and suicide bombers is staggering.
Ok – those are the negatives, and after I have got over numb bum from watching the Opening Snore, it changes. It then becomes a contest of will, drive and talent in a variety of sporting competitions that for the most part have me completely rivetted. I watch the cross country skiers and can only think, how can they do that without having a heart attack from the exertion. I watch the aerialists and am truly amazed that a person can do those sorts of acrobatics and manage to land on their feet.
I read the stories of the triumphs, and yes the tragedies, and realize that whatever the cost of the games it is worth it if it inspires the youth of the world to get up off the couch, drag their ass to the nearest skating rink, or ski hill and begin the long and painful process of being amongst the best in the world. In this Xbox world where schools aren’t allowed to fail students because it might damage their delicate psyche and governments seem to be actively punishing people who wish to get ahead so they can support those who don’t, it is great to have a celebration of achievement and the struggle it entails.
So, yes – some of the sports are a bit strange. Sliding down an ice gulley on a carbon fibre tea tray doesn’t exactly strike me as a sport for the sane, attempting to judge the unjudgeable such as figure skating is always a fun time and watching the potential carnage which is team short track speed skating reminds me of Rollerball. Nevertheless, each and every one of those athletes have pursued their goal to be the best in the world, and I think that celebrating this every four years isn’t such a bad thing.
VANOC came up with this plan to “own the podium”. This was a concentrated drive to get Canadian athletes to excel with the games on their home turf. It funnelled 186 million dollars into trying to give Canadian athletes a boost and has been widely lampooned, as it looks like the USA actually owns the podium for the most part. Well so be it. At least we have some decent results, which is more than can be said for the Calgary Games. Incidentally I watched the Games in Calgary and thought they were fabulous, but the home results were a bit disappointing and I do not believe that with the results from Vancouver, so money well spent. Shame we couldn’t have spent another $2 to get a decent catch phrase.
Finally, the Press – well we have the article in Pravda by Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey that I’m guessing was read out in the dressing room prior to the Canada/Russia game. That one worked out well didn’t it? We also have the British media who seem to be making a name for themselves as inveterate whiners, complainers and general kill-joys. Sure, there have been mistakes at this Olympics, no one will deny that. The death of the Georgian luger was a total tragedy and the fall of the cross country skier into a culvert was incompetence by the course workers of the highest order. No one should excuse these, and they do mar the Games, but a lot has gone right too!
I wonder if the British Press will be applying the same standards to the London Games? Having an aging rocker perform from a London bus was a great start methinks. What delights will the opening ceremonies in London bring? Will there be complaining about the delights of British Cuisine in the athletes village or is Gordon Ramsey going to be hired to whip them into shape? Considering it is pretty difficult to travel around London even at the best of times, how in hell are the organizers going to deal with the traffic tie-ups the Olympis will bring? Will “sorry the train didn’t run on time” be the epitaph for London? Seriously though, I hope London goes off flawlessly – it better considering the way the Brits have commented on Vancouver.