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Feb. 10, 2010

What a difference a year makes. Two days away from the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in
Vancouver and it’s already spring time on the Wet Coast. A year ago at this time we were digging out from one of the most protracted winters on record Where I had two feet of snow in my front yard at this time last year I now have tulips and daffodils sprouting.

February 10, 2010
By Paul Dixon

Topics



So,
no winter wonderland for
Vancouver. Organizers
have been promoting this as the greenest Olympics ever, but weren’t quite ready
for this. For the most part though, it’s all window dressing. The north shore
mountains, covered in their normal mid-winter snow, will make an impressive
backdrop as
Vancouver is showcased
on TVs around the world. Whistler has lots of snow with temperatures on the
winter side of freezing and that’s where it counts; on the ski runs and
cross-country tracks.

The
Olympic torch will arrive at BC Place Stadium for the opening ceremonies Friday
evening after 104 days criss-crossing the country for 104 days. It’s now making
its way around metro
Vancouver escorted by a
soft drink truck, a rolling billboard promoting one of the sponsors. It’s sad
but true – money makes the Games go ‘round. No sponsors, no Olympic Games. All
the talk about the purity of sport and competition for competition’s sake is
great but it doesn’t pay the rent.

VANOC
may not have been able to orchestrate the weather, but it has made up for it
with its control of the advertising and sponsorship puzzle. All outdoor
advertising in metro
Vancouver and up the
road to Whistler was bought by VANOC well in advance of the Olympics and then
made available to Olympic sponsors. The Starbucks in the lobby of the hotel
where IOC members are staying had to be shut down for the duration and boarded
up to cover all signage because it’s not a sponsor. VANOC was forced to back
down in 2005 after attempting to deprive Olympia Pizza, a
Vancouver landmark for
many years, of its right to its business name and logo after the court of
public opinion voted overwhelmingly in favour of the house special.

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More
recently, the people’s court ruled the IOC out of order when it told members of
the Australian Olympic team to remove their team flag from the balcony of their
suite in
Vancouver athlete’s
village. Their mistake had been in trade marking their image of Joey the boxing
kangaroo, which, in turn, led to the IOC deeming it a commercial object. Public
outrage was such that the IOC beat a hasty retreat.

So
after years of buildup, here we are in the rain with a boxing kangaroo. Two
days from now the genie will be out of the bottle. I will be out and about in
Vancouver and
throughout the region trying to keep an eye on what I think is interesting
after my lifetime in public safety and emergency management.

Years
ago, we used to order the police special (vegetarian chow mein with black bean
sauce) on Saturday nights. One night, the fortune in my cookie said “Expect the
worst and hope for the best”. I put it in my wallet and kept it for years.
Here’s hoping.


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