Olympic Fever?

Go Canada!


When Leif and I attended the Olympic-bid announcement party as PacificSport athletes in 2003, we were excited at the prospect of having the Olympics come to Vancouver, with all the spinoff and legacy that would mean for sport in BC and Canada.  Even though we were Summer athletes, we were excited to have the Olympics coming to Canada.  Although I am not an Olympian and have not done that much international competition, I was still brought up in a sport culture that reveres the Olympic ideals and questioning the Olympics feels a bit sacrilegious.  Hop in the handcart and buckle up! 

The 7 years subsequent to the announcement made it a little harder to maintain the same level of enthusiasm.  The tax-funded projects were continually outpacing their budgets.  A massive real estate boom inflated the cost of the ahtlete´s village so much that buying those apartments will cost you $1000/sq ft, and the guarantees for low-income family housing slipped from 50% and fell continually, and will probably end up being 0 in that development.   In the face of some very fundamental social problems  in BC and Vancouver (drugs, homelessness, marginalized aboriginal population, dismal housing accessibility), it seemed harder to rationalize spending so much on the Olympics, particularly the non-sport aspects of it.   At the same time, a  few really great things have come out of it; I’m not sure when we would have got the Airport skytrain line if it weren’t for the Olympics.  We are told there will also be a bump in tourism for the next few years, and Vancouver is such a great city I am sure lots of people will want to come back. (Our local Paper in Sweden recommended Tojo’s as a place to eat, rock on California roll!) 

I support investment in sport, especially youth sport and developmental coaching, and I think having some great facilities (for community and high-performance use) will benefit lots of people.  The inspiration to get out and get active and to strive for you best is a great message for everyone to take away, and the injection of enthusiasm around sport and dreaming big is valuable.  However, I think its fair to separate the Olympic dream and ideals  (PS Baron de Courbetin was a classist, misogynistic jerk) from some of the real-world manifestation, which is not always driven by those ideals ($$$$).  Also, we should not have to forgo road repairs for 25 years, a la Montreal!  


Having said that, I have a poster outside my office that lists all the Canadian medal events and athletes so far (a Swedish one has popped up below it in response).  I like watching the webcast events and appreciate the scope and depth of competition.  I am cheering for Canada, and I hope that the benefit and legacy of the Olympics will spread out beyond athletics.


  1. …not to mention the AMAZING party atmosphere that you’re missing. Everyone is friendly and happy, despite the crowds. We wish you could be here to enjoy it, too. Also-you need to watch The Colbert Report, the Sean White episode. His interview with Ujjal Dosanjh is hilarious.

  2. Yes, I also hope that the positive aspects of the games spread beyond athletics. I am frustrated about the way the plan for the games changed over the years since 2003, particularly with the plan for low-income housing and also I heard that the Legacy Fund they had established through Pacific Sport (to operate as a legacy for grass-roots sport development years beyond the games) got totally cut when the games development went overbudget. So that makes me a bit frustrated.

    I would be very excited to one day see an olympics that involves more diverse demographics and discourses in the host community: I feel that both China and Canada in the 2008/2010 games have done a spectacular job of hosting a great competition and a great party in a world-class way, but unfortunately that has meant a lot of people and discourses have been silenced and or moved out of town temporarily. I’m not interested in pointing fingers: I have no doubt it is a challenge to put on the Olympics and that the IOC is pretty demanding in its expectations.

    All that said, I am thoroughly enjoying watching the games! So many athletes are doing such amazing things and showing great spirit.

  3. I believe that most of the benefit of the Olympics to the host city is not in the revenue generated DURING the event, but in the improved/expanded infrastructure left for the host city residents to enjoy.

    That assumes of course that those same host city residents are not paying for that infrastructure until their grandchildren are grandparents, AND that they can afford to enjoy access to the venues.

    Still, on American television, there is much being made of how beautiful and welcoming Vancouver is. But then, we knew that.

  4. I completely agree with you – I felt and still have mixed feelings towards the Olympics.

    (On a completely unrelated note – I absolutely loved the Canadian ice dancing choreography and disliked a lot of the ice dancing costumes. I think they should have a separate mark for costumes which would include penalties for particularly offensive outfits.)

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