Thursday, February 11, 2010

No One Will Remember the Costs Once the Torch is Lit

My column from today's 24 Hours in Vancouver:

Today is the last day anyone is going to care about any Olympic problems, costs or protests. Tomorrow the torch will be lit in BC Place and all the negativity will be forgotten.

I know there are many people out there hoping to grab global media attention with the games, but it is a waste of time. I love the winter games and I also follow politics off all stripes around the world, but I can not remember what the protests were about in Salt Lake City in 2002 or Turin in 2006. Frankly I can not remember the protesters at all.

The protest movement in Italy is much more organized and militant that anything in BC. Even with their better organization they made no impact on the media last time.

It is a shame that people have started to use the celebration of the Olympics to push their political point of view. There is a self righteousness and martyr complex to most of the protesters, they act as if they know better than all of the rest of us.

One aspect I find most patronizing is the cultural appropriation of the First Nations by the protesters. The four First Nations, in which traditional territories the games are being held, are partners in the games. It seems for the protesters that support of aboriginal people is only OK if the First Nations have the “right” political view.

The decision was made years ago to hold the Olympics in BC, it is supported by the federal Liberals and Conservatives and the provincial Liberals and NDP. The people protesting the games are not willing to accept that the games are supported by most people.

The costs have been an issue and the protesters have pointed out how they would have spent the money. This ignores that the games are comparatively inexpensive. The government costs of the 2010 games will be cheaper than the 2006, 2002 or 1998 winter games. In fact, were it not for the dramatic increase in the security costs, the Vancouver games could have been the cheapest Olympic games since Calgary. No one will remember the costs once the torch is lit.

That said, the NDP has done a good job of questioning the details of the costs.

All the protesters are doing is adding an unneeded negativity in the run up to the games which will be forgotten tomorrow. If there is going to be any negative image of the Olympic games, it will be because Vancouver will likely be socked in with rain as it is most Februaries.
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