Friday, August 1, 2008

Rings Around The World

I'm sure you've all noticed the new additions to my blog roll (because you all watch this page like a hawk, instantly noticing every minor alteration and waiting on the edge of your seats for an explanation, right?). Yep, it's finally Olympic month! The excitement is building and I'm already hooked on the BBC and CBC Olympic blogs.

I love, love, LOVE the Olympics. Summer and Winter. I love the idealistic thought of the world's athletes and fans coming together, of a global celebration of sport and the dedication and passion it inspires. I stay up until 3 am watching the rowing, and fencing, and sailing, and a myriad of other sports I usually view with complete indifference. And when the track and field start, well, I'll be needing a lot of caffeine at work.

Oh, and I cry at medal ceremonies. Especially if a British or Canadian athlete wins*, but sometimes even if they don't. Four years of dedication, hard work and pain paying off in that one perfect moment as the flags are raised and the anthem plays. I'm actually tearing up a bit just writing this! And don't even get me started on the Paralympics, except to say that now would be a good time to invest in Kleenex Canada shares.

I'm not totally naive, before anyone says anything. I know the Olympic ideal was corrupted years ago by rampant commercialism and drug use. And as an Amnesty International member for over ten years, I really wish the games weren't in China. But can I at least hope that the intense media spotlight centred on the country will have some positive and long-lasting implications for the Chinese people? I like my rose-tinted glasses, damnit!

The biggest excitement, though, comes in 2010 when the Winter Games come to Vancouver and Whistler.

Olympic flag flying at Vancouver's City Hall, just a few hundred metres from my office

There's been a lot of local opposition to the Games, due to the expense and the (perceived?) neglect of other issues such as health care and homelessness in favour of Olympic infrastructure and a short-term cosmetic clean-up of the city's problem areas. To these people I say: you've made your point, which obviously has its merits, but the Games are a done deal, so shut up, NIMBYs! There is not a single city in the world that wouldn't have the same issues - in fact a wealthy city like Vancouver, in a wealthy country like Canada, is one of the best options - so should we just scrap the whole Olympic thing for good? You really, really, want to scrap Olympic Ice Hockey and the chance for bragging rights over the Americans every four years? Yeah, didn't think so.

Yes, the construction's a pain. I cycle past one of the in-progress venues every day and suffer from traffic congestion and clouds of dust blowing over the road. But I also cycle past the Olympic and Paralympic flags, and remember what they stand for and how much fun the Games are going to be. The best of the best athletes in the world are coming to town, so let's enjoy the party. And of course we're going to benefit from the Olympic infrastructure for generations to come - the expanded light rail to the airport and a safer, faster highway to Whistler as well as the new sports facilities. I hear they're going to take paying tourists down the bobsled track in Whistler when the games are over, something I've always wanted to try. The whole thing would be worth it just for that, in my opinion!

When tickets go on sale, I'm going to be one of the first in line. Mr E Man says he would do anything - anything - for hockey tickets. That would indeed be awesome, especially if local favourite Roberto Luongo backstops Canada to the gold medal. But I'm more interested in visiting the venue that I see on my daily ride. I can WALK from my home to an OLYMPIC VENUE. How cool is that??!! OK, so it's only curling, but still. It's Great Britain's best chance of a medal in the Winter games, actually.

The 2012 Summer Games are in London. My sister says I can stay at her place. But, until then, good luck Beijing! I'll be glued to the TV!

(Title explanation for those of you not well up on the Welsh indie music scene of a few years ago)

*I still support any British athlete against any Canadian, and probably always will. Here's hoping for a record medal haul for both countries!

11 comments:

  1. And now I'm going to make you jealous, jealous, jealous, when I tell you that we went to the summer olympics in Athens...and it was TOTALLY awesome.

    I promised my kids we would go to the one in London too!

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  2. We went to the Commonwealth Games in Manchester and had a great time; the sailors in the family are very excited about the 2012 Olympics, as the sailing will be in Weymouth, where my Brother in law lives and sails, he can expect house guests!

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  3. I LOVE the Olympics too!! I cry during medal ceremonies as well, especially if an American wins. It's all tape delayed here though which blows. Is it tape delayed in Canada?

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  4. DrDrA, I am indeed very jealous. I bet you couldn't walk there from your own doorstep though! ;)

    UHDH, that sounds like fun too! Fingers crossed for GB's sailing team this time around, IIRC we did pretty well in Athens and Sydney.

    Arduous, I'm soooo glad it's not just me! I haven't figured out the broadcast schedule though because the CBC website crashes about 80% of the time when I access it from work. Not sure why...

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  5. This is awesome. I totally want to be her friend. I did some fencing at university, but I hurt my knee and had to give it up.

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  6. CAE-

    Well, actually- since DrMrA is from Athens... we could walk there from our very own doorstep... after a long plane ride of course.

    I hope we can bring the girls up to the winter games in BC as well... although I like the summer better!

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  7. I cry at medals ceremonies too! And, with all the caveats you mentioned about China and money allocation and the like, I've been looking forward to watching too.

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  8. DrDrA, I guess that kinda counts ;) I've learned to appreciate the Winter games much more now that I live in a country that actually wins medals. The 2002 games were starting just as I arrived in Vancouver, and my department had set up a TV in the lunch room for people to watch events. I met a lot of people just by sitting down and saying "hi, I just moved here from England. What's the offside rule in hockey?". And, when Canada beat the US in the hockey gold medal game, I got sucked into a massive street party right by my new apartment. It was a great introduction to Canada! (Even though my new room mate kicked me out during the final, because he didn't want to have to explain the rules in such an emotive game. I understood completely, I would have done the same if England were in a world or European football or rugby cup final).

    Post-doc, one of my favourite things about blogging is when you admit to something embarrassing and it turns out other people do it too! Only a few days to go now... China has even lifted some of their internet restrictions.

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  9. I too am super jazzed about the olympics. I can't wait until 2010 either. thanks for the link on the blog roll!

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  10. Oh yes there is nothing like being at the city during the olympics. We went to Torino in 2006. Canada did not play very well (we saw the hockey match) but they won which was good. Talk about a city coming alive. It was an amazing experience, one that I am looking forward to again.

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  11. You're welcome! Torino must have been great. I will be just about peeing my pants by the time the torch is lit in Vancouver.

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