Glass-Housed Stone-Slingers: Return Fire for Foreign Olympic Criticism.
So many Olympic thoughts running through my brain. After watching it on TV EVERYday so far, and even going to Vancouver to see a few events, I gotta say I’m really enjoying the Olympics overall. I don’t think I’d be
wrong to say that most Canadians are as well. Have you ever seen spontaneous jubilation in streets, or random outbursts of “O Canada” at curling matches before? Unreal. Truly something special; whether you’re viewing from afar, or are there to experience it in person.
Most people internationally would likely say the same thing as well. Unfortunately, there are a few members of the American and British press who want to rain on everyone’s parade by labelling Vancouver 2010 as the “worst games ever”.
Sure, the weather hasn’t been ideal; but events have continued, and medals have been awarded. Sorry we forgot to import the weather machine that does our meteorological bidding. Our courses are too hard? The competitors are the best in the world at their sports, right? Should we make
them easier for everyone? Sorry for training on our own tracks a lot; didn’t know that was such a bad thing. The world doesn’t like our “Own The Podium” program, where we give more money and training opportunities than we historically have to our Olympic athletes in hopes of them winning a lot of medals? Oh, sorry, should we just go back to being a mediocre sporting nation for everyone else to roll over like they used to? What we gave our competitors is still nowhere near that of other nations, and hey, it’s not even working out THAT well for us so far, so chill. We’re doing alright though, and no one here is going to be less proud of our athletes for any reason.
A malfunction in the Opening Ceremonies? Um… whoops. We swear they were working in practice. Some people thought the flaming icicles looked like male genitalia, or drug paraphernalia? Well, think what you want, but be careful what indigenous people you vocalize those opinions around. No one can get close to the flame? Hey, they’re working on it. I got a few good pics; I’m not complaining. The US beating Canada in men’s hockey? Wait, that’s Canada’s complaint. Blame it on the goalies when things go squirrely, right?
And the death of Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili; well that was simply a tragedy, nothing else. That track has been ridden countless times safely, and it’s a very unfortunate and sobering example of just how dangerous that sport is.
So England and America, oh yee dwelling in glass houses and flats; how did your prior Olympic Games hostings turn out?
London’s Olympic Games in 1908 saw England piss off the Finnish, Swedish, and USA by not displaying their flags at the Opening Ceremonies. Finland decided not to march, and Sweden left all together. The Americans were then asked to “dip” their flag to the Royals, which they outright refused. Solid international relations, England.
The USA’s Games hosting tenures haven’t been “squeaky clean” either.
Atlanta’s 1996’s Summer Games were considered over-commercialized, had a highly criticized Olympic Village and Opening Ceremonies by spectators and athletes alike, and… what else, what else…. OH YEAH, there was a BOMBING that killed 2 people and injured 111 others.
Salt Lake City’s Winter Games of 2002 were marred by a bribery scandal (all-expense-paid ski trips, scholarships, Super Bowl trips, plastic surgery, deals on real estate, jobs for family members, and cash for IOC delegates from the Utah bid committee) to bring the Olympics to Utah which saw several IOC members expelled, and others resign. Allegations of foul play in figure skating judging saw scores and results reviewed and medals re-awarded. Suspect refereeing in speed skating DQ’ed a Korean, and angered that entire country to the point that the Olympic website crashed from the overload of threatening emails sent to them over the result. Russians threatened to go home after they felt they were unfairly accused of doping in cross-country skiing.
Los Angeles’ Games of 1984 were boycotted by 16 countries. In LA’s 1932 Games, President Hoover became the first head of state in Olympic history not to even show up at the event. The 1904 Games in St. Louis became a sideshow of The World’s Fair, and lasted four and a half months.
Now, all that to say to the critics look, we know things have been going wrong. We’re working on it. No one said Vancouver 2010 was going to be perfect. And let’s be honest, everyone throwing stones at us right now has got plenty of skeletons in their own closets from when they tried to host the Olympic Games previously. Can we at least agree that it’s a rather dubious task? And London, you get them again in 2012, so you better be expecting an earful the second after the first thing goes wrong. I’ll take a few unseasonably warm days in Whistler over any of those other issues any day. There’s just so much good to be taken from these Games, maybe we can all just quit pointing fingers at our follies and just enjoy our athletes rising above the childish media behavior?
I think US Men’s Hockey Team GM, Brian Burke, said it best with this earlier quote in response to the criticisms of Vancouver 2010:
“I think that’s bullshit. I’ve been to four Winter Olympics. This is the best one I’ve been to in terms of organization. You’re going to have glitches in an event this size. With this many people, logistical things with multiple venues, you’re going to have glitches. I don’t know why people are whining about it. I think it’s been extraordinarily well run — again, this is my fourth one so it’s not like I’m a novice. I think they’ve done a marvellous job here. I wish people would quit bitching about it.”
Man, for a million reasons, I wish Brian Burke was Canadian.