Some British Olympics correspondents have already declared the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics to be the worst ever.
A veteran Canadian journo who dates back to the 1988 Games in Calgary fires back — but two others think Vancouver’s detractors have a point.
This CTVOlympics.ca story has a lot of details, but I’ll excerpt:
The Olympics, according to the Times, make a “global statement about a host city and its nation. For the Canadian hosts, the statement they had intended to make was tied up less in infrastructure and more in hard-nosed competitive edge; they pretty much told the world that they wanted to win medals more than friends.”*
* The Feb. 16 article was headlined, “Canada salvages gold from wreckage of tarnished Vancouver Olympics“
Ouch. And it’s just been downhill, so to speak, from there.
The Times declared that the Games “appear to have been cursed” and organizers are wringing their hands as the competition “staggers from one crisis to another.” …
On Monday, a headline in the Guardian newspaper screamed: “Vancouver Games continue downhill slide from disaster to calamity.” Underneath the headline was a prediction that the 2010 Winter Games could go down as the “worst in Olympic history.”
Reporter Lawrence Donegan criticized the organizers’ decision to hold events at Cypress Mountain, a location known for spotty weather. The rains have left organizers no choice but to refund thousands of tickets to snowboarding events because viewing platforms would be too unstable.
Donegan also mocked the malfunctioning hydraulics system that left one of four cauldrons surrounding the Olympic flame to remain buried underground during Friday’s opening ceremonies.
Indeed, the endless series of calamities has led a writer on U.S. online magazine Salon.com to “fire” Canada as Olympic Games host in a humorous, but pointed, post.
Allow me to introduce you to the response of Don Martin, a veteran columnist whti the Calgary Herald and National Post, who penned a dyspeptic column entitled, “Britain’s Viagra brigade whines right on time“:
Don’t take it personally, Vancouver. The boys of former Fleet Street took mere days to write off Calgary in 1988 before it went on to earn the International Olympic Committee’s ‘best-ever Games’ seal of approval.
You think waiting a minute for most of the four-legged Olympic cauldron to rise out of the B.C. Place floor was a disaster? Well, you can only image how the Brits frothed when a giant inflatable mountain range popped like a balloon in a blustery wind just an hour before the opening ceremonies in Calgary’s McMahon Stadium.
That was just the beginning. They belittled the ATCO trailer media village, bemoaned their lost laundry and, yes, jeered when snow had to be trucked in to bolster cross-country trails in Canmore. All in the first week.
VANOC put on a brave face to the outbreak of hostile international media reaction, which is spreading into a foreign frenzy pile-on. “Is this the worst beginning of a Games ever?,” one journalist baited officials Tuesday. And, pray tell, what answer was he expecting? Yes?
Martin has a theory about why the Brits were so quick to dump on the Vancouver Games:
Sigh. This silly war of trans-Atlantic words will continue if British journalists continue their campaign to malign a Games which are barely 100 hours old.
Perhaps it’s a genetic disposition. After all, Utrecht University in the Netherlands recently found 40 per cent of British men suffer from a premature tendency which, unfortunately for them and their partners, is medically defined as an inability to last more than a minute in bed.
Oops, sorry. Now THAT’S a cheap shot.
… the transportation glitches, the confused drivers, the rickety buses that broke down twice on the Canadian moguls skiers alone, the misfiring leg of the opening ceremony cauldron . . . as problems arise almost daily, the stigma begins to attach itself ever more firmly.
And the name that is now starting to come up more and more often — which sends a chill down my spine, and ought to do the same to the Vancouver organizers — is “Atlanta.”
That was the first Olympic host city in forever that the IOC president of the day, Juan Antonio Samaranch, refused to anoint with the title “best Games ever.”
That’s not the kind of company anyone wants to keep.
Globe and Mail columnist Stephen Brunt had a similar conclusion on Tuesday:
That said, the hammering which the Vancouver Games are taking right now in the international press is not merely a case of cynical, bored reporters willfully ignoring silver linings.
There have been problems here. Some of them are the result of unforeseeable circumstances, of acts of God, some have been wildly overblown.
And some are absolutely real and simply inexcusable, the unhappy byproduct of taking calculated risks, of incompetence and design flaws and bad planning exposed at the very worst time.
No point in circling the wagons and pretending otherwise, of pointing to every bus that arrives on time, every security checkpoint that works flawlessly, every smiling, polite volunteer. The locals tried that in Atlanta in 1996, and it only made things worse.
The links to those last two came from the Twitter feed of Vancouver Sun reporter Chad Skelton.