Or is it just the Big Owe? Some would even say Woe Canada! When are we going to stop being down on ourselves? Yeah, I know we have been ecstatically screaming "Go Canada Go!" throughout this Vancouver Olympics (do I have to put a c in a circle every time I write that word?) and the merchandisers keep trying to sell us clothing that says "I Believe". But is that what the spirit of Canada is all about?
A little over half a century ago, when I was hitchhiking around Europe, I had an old suitcase with CANADA stenciled in big white letters on the side. Drivers would stop and pick me up — even at night– just on the basis of my nationality alone. Have we become so insecure about our identity that we need a surfeit of medals at the Olympic circus so that we can show the world that we have courage, stamina and determination? In fact, the British media and various mechanical glitches aside, visitors to Canada have been thoroughly impressed and happy with their experiences here.
But why do we have to put up with the greed and grief of the International Olympic Committee (IOC, not VANOC) to put our story out? Our athletes, coming from a very medium sized country, are among the better ones on the world. If we don’t "own the podium", should we think less of these outstanding individuals who have dedicated the greater part of their lives to excellence? Our athletes have been heroic and they have demonstrated their prowess in true world class fashion.
What truly irritates me is that Olympic "fever" is truly transient and the taxpayer ends up paying the freight. The event is actually a merchandisers’ dream with the sponsorship money going to the IOC. Now tell me: who is the IOC; what is the IOC; and what do they contribute to the host cities they select? This must be the most lucrative franchise in the world that doesn’t have to answer to anyone. Every biennial occasion is an emotional monster, eating up every last shred of local community resources.
Frankly, I’d like to see the IOC pay something back to the communities that take on the responsibility of these games. For starters, the IOC should, at the very least, pay for the security costs. Then, on an ongoing basis, set up foundations to help fund qualified athletes coming from poorer jurisdictions to achieve their full potential.
Otherwise the Olympic ideal is just another greedy money machine. What do you think?
P.S. The Canadian women’s hockey team just demolished the US team and they celebrated with some beer, champagne & cigars… and the IOC said "tut, tut!". I guess those splendid athletes didn’t realize that only men are allowed to celebrate in such fashion.