Friday, February 12, 2010

Olympian Ambivilence

I've got this little knee issue that's stealing much of my sleep for the moment, so I found myself up at 3 this morning, watching the news, having given up the sleep ghost for a while. By 5 the pre-torch run show was on, and at 6 I watched the throngs begin the final day's surge across the Lions Gate Bridge.

I was at the Olympics in 1988, and it was quite a show. The day I rode up the chair lift just ahead of Eddie the Eagle, they had to shut down the luge run due to the chinook that blew through, spraying prairie dust all along the icy surface. Low snow seems to be a theme with our Canadian Winter Olympics, it seems.

I've felt far more ambivalent about the approach of these games. Even in this post-9/11 world, the billion dollars the IOC and VANOC have allotted to security seems like an unthinkable amount. Last night as I drove home along the Sea to Sky there were six police cars who had pulled drivers over in the course of the fifteen minute drive.

While the television coverage doesn't really show it, most of the torch-bearers had the ubiquitous Coca-Cola truck running interference for them, replete with go-go dancers for that special little commercial touch.

And, how our premier can beam fondly over at the well-protected, torch-bearing Arnold Schwartznegger this morning and at the same time make cuts to education [800 teaching jobs on the line in Vancouver alone next year] and health care -- well, it leads one to want to turn one's back on the spectacle entirely.

And yet...

There's THIS -- a look at our beautiful country through the eyes of others who may never have seen it if not for the torch run. Or the pictures here, which I took the other night at the downtown branch of the Vancouver Public Library. They depict a collection of twinkling dreams made corporeal, shot high through the air into a web of hope by those who see the Games as a peaceful way for countries to gather together.

So for all those athletes and volunteers and well-wishers -- let the games begin. I'll fire high my twinkling hopes for great competition, good sportsmanship and increased understanding among nations. And I'll save the worries for my city and province for when the post-Olympocalypse descends.

[Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to head out onto the Sea-to-Sky and remember to drive with due care and attention, UNDER the speed limit...]

~kc

2 comments:

Gerb said...

Ooh. I hope your knee gets better! What's going on?

I know what you mean about ambivalence. I think about the women of ski jumping not being allowed to participate yet again and it kind of sours the whole thing for me.

That plus, like you said, the amount of money it takes to host an event like this seems obscene when housing and education suffers.

And yet... I was at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake and the atmosphere was electric. Knowing the kind of work the athletes put in and the sacrifices they made to be there made me want to give them their moment and wholeheartedly support it.

Will Vancouver recoup the money they put into the Games, I wonder? Historically, isn't it a boon to the area that hosts? (I have no idea, but I figure there must be a payoff that makes us we fight to host the games on our turf...)

Whatever the case, let the games begin!

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