The Olympics

I live in Vancouver. Today, the 2010 Olympics are starting.

And there are a lot of people here that aren’t happy about it.

I’m going to be honest. I don’t know a whole lot about the issues that people are raising in protesting the Olympics. There’s a lot of concern that it’ll cause huge economic problems. There are concerns about corruption in the IOC and VANOC. There’s this whole Freedom of Speech issue. Lots of people are trying to escape Vancouver for these two weeks. Lots of people have never wanted the Olympics here.

I am not one of those people. And sometimes, I just want to tell them to get over themselves. It’s the goddamn Olympics.

Did Vancouver cheat its way into getting the Olympics, saying Vancouver and Whistler are like, right beside each other guys, it’ll be easy? I’ve heard that. I dunno. Does it matter? It’s done now, the Olympics are here.

Have there been freedom of speech issues? Well, anyone who’s not an official sponsor isn’t allowed to do some things regarding advertising. Which I guess could be seen as a problem, but it’s just like at a contained sports event — only certain ads can be inside an arena, those companies payed a lot of money for that. It’s just now the arena is a whole city. But it’s just for, what, a month?

And there’s been this kerfuffle wherein protestors are being restricted to certain areas (notably, away from event venues, and thus, potentially, TV cameras). Is this a restriction of free speech? Well, yeah, maybe. And I’m a staunch supporter of free speech. But do you really think media won’t get to the protestors? That’s news. And keeping them away from the venues? Well, I don’t know about anyone else, but as someone who’s going to be attending a few events, I sure as hell don’t want to have to fight my way past protestors to get there. If the protestors were at the venues, it would cause a whole bunch of problems for the smooth operation of the games. They wouldn’t be solving anything, they’d be causing more of a problem. If I were a protestor, I’d probably try to get everyone to protest elsewhere anyway, because otherwise you’re just being an ass to everyone else.

Is the Olympics going to cost the city/province/country a lot of money? Hell yes.

But really? It’s the Olympics.

I have been a fan of the Olympics since I was a kid. I’m not a sports guy, but every two years I plunk myself in front of the TV, pull out the Sports section and fire up the internet. There’s something about this great, international competition, something about national pride and globalism. I mean, think of the Olympic moments that have happened despite wars and controversy.

That’s what this is all about. This is about bringing the world together. It’s about athletes striving to be the best they can be, to train and work and represent their country and bring pride to their teammates and nation. It’s about having people from the US competing with people from Russia, and China, and Sweden, and South Africa, and not only saying, who can be the best athlete when everything else is stripped away — but also saying, look: we can bring together people from the US, Russia, China, Sweden, South Africa, and everywhere else in the world, and bring them all to one place for a friendly competition.

It’s about striving to be our best, it’s about being proud to be who we are, it’s about dedication and work and payoff, it’s about fun, it’s about people coming together.

It’s about being human.

It costs a lot of money to host. But the Olympics are at our doorstep. The world is here. Why can’t we show them a good time? Why can’t we strive to showcase all of those virtues? Are there better ways to run/put on/obtain/manage/pay for the Olympics? I have no doubt. Am I going to enjoy the Olympics anyway?

You bet I am.

Welcome, World. Let’s play.

2 comments on this post.
  1. Sean Casey:

    Hey Lucas,

    The issue about protestors at Olympic venues was not about having access to the media. With over 10,000 international journalists in the city for the next two weeks, finding media coverage is the least of concerns.

    The issue at hand was that the city had signed a hosting contract with the IOC that essentially said, “Freedom of speech is temporarily suspended in the public space outside of Olympic venues.” The fear was that case law was being made saying that commercial rights were more important than Charter rights… a scary proposition for the future of Canada’s democracy.

    While it’s great that the Olympics can bring about a spirit of competitive cooperation between individuals from different nations, we mustn’t ignore the oft-legit complaints that the protestors have with the Games. Not only is there a heavy financial cost with the Olympics, but a high social impact too (such as the failure to provide a social housing legacy, the privatization of public space, the continued targeted harassment of the homeless, the destruction of local retailers in favour of international mega-corporations, the destruction of Eagle Ridge for construction, etc). While the next two weeks will be a lot of fun, don’t forget that there will be consequences for the next two decades because of it.

    Open discussion and the acceptance of active dissent is necessary for any form of real democracy to survive. While I understand your concerns about not wanting to have the Games ruined for you by a protestor, don’t forget to take a few minutes to listen to what that protestor has to say. There’s a reason that they’re on the street, and it’s not just to be annoying.

    Love reading the blog mate, keep up the good work.

    – Sean

  2. Henry:

    Lucas, you really need to read this:

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