Black Flags Over the Olympics

By Karla Fetrow

The Year a People Cried

This has not been a good year for the Olympics.  In fact, there are many who are beginning to wonder if there should ever have been an Olympics at all.  The weather has not co-operated well.  While Vancouver bathed in a warm spell, clattering trucks and helicopters dumped snow on Cypress Mountain, just days before the scheduled events, with weather forecasts predicting rain. Neither did the choice of California Governor, Arnold  Schwarzenegger as a torch bearer sit too well.  The general opinion was that Canada could have found at least as worthy a citizen of Canada to bear the torch.

According to the Diary of Black Athlete, Schwarzeneggner’s main ambition was to negotiate a hi-speed rail deal with Bombardier, the company that built Vancouver’s SkyTrain and New York City’s airport shuttle. The author states bitterly, “Schwarzenegger’s design to have a high-speed rail line go thru all of Cali is the only Olympic event that matters to him.”

To make matters worse, on February 12th. , tragedy struck with the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili after a high-speed crash at the end of his final pre-Olympic training run at the Whistler Sliding Center.  Although the officials said they would raise the wall where the slider flew off the track and make an unspecified “change in the ice profile” — but only as a preventative measure “to avoid that such an extremely exceptional accident could occur again” they denied that the accident was the fault of the track.  Fast and frightening, yes. Responsible for the death of a luger, no.  They ruled  against any major changes in the track or any delays in competition and even doubled up on the schedule, despite the mourning of the Georgia team, in which one player even withdrew.

As tragic as the death of the luger was the shadow of disillusion that now hung over the Olympics.  The show must go on.  This was no longer a peaceful competition for the gold medal placements of the best in sports, this was the Spectacle Extravanganza.  The CTV live streamed the real time death of the Olympic luger at its web site, video clips  were posted at U-tube and other video sites almost as simultaneously, with instant public response.  Hardly any attention has been paid to the winners of the events, but eyes remained fastened to the moment of tragedy.

David Zurorik of the Baltimore Sun wrote, “I can’t get past the way NBC is handling the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumarishtavili. It’s been more than a week now. I gave NBC a pass at first when it let Olympic officials blame Kumarishtavili’s death on the luger rather than the course. I told myself NBC was just holding its powder while its news division, which was on hand in full force with anchorman Brian Williams broadcasting from the games, investigated the matter.”

Zurorik concluded NBC apparently had no plans to do any such thing. It took the New York Times to report that a Venezuelan luger had warned Canadian officials repeatedly starting in November that the track was needlessly dangerous after he was seriously injured in a crash much like the one that killed the Georgian.  In response to the journalistic efforts of the “Times” and other reports of a Georgian coach utterly rejecting claims of luger error, the International Luge Federation Thursday announced that it would do a complete review of all sliding events at the Olympics — after the games.”

The Popularity Charge

The show continued, the cheers and calls sounding more like a polite audience cheering on their favorite high school team.  The ratings looked grim.  NBC could not compete with American Idol.  Enter Shaun White, and the most dare-devil stunts snow-boarding has ever seen.  In his baggy pants, flannel shirt, inappropriate for the cultivated and groomed congregation lingo, he stomped them.  He creamed the Olympics.  The ratings shot sky high and NBC carefully assembled  its cast of reporters and cameras for what was suddenly possibly one of the best Olympics ever; and hopefully one that forgot about Shaun White.

There is much the publicists and sponsors  would like to forget.  The Olympics flounders desperately  between the flawless image it wishes to project and a far more brutal reality knocking at its door.   While NBC preens and gloats over US gold medal winners, it serenely ignores the rumbles and messages in the background.  The city that had hoped to present itself as a prosperous city, a jewel in a wilderness setting, paid a heavy price for the illusion.  On February twelfth, during the opening ceremonies, violence broke out.  “An estimated crowd of 1500 protesters left the Vancouver Art Gallery tonight and marched through the downtown core to Robson and Beatty Streets where they engaged police prior to, and during the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Games,” said Const. Jana McGuinness.

She also stated, “Two officers were injured with flying objects and one was sent to hospital with a shoulder injury but was treated and released. No protesters were injured.”

The incident as reported in the Feb 14, 2010 Los Angeles Times – McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX, said the police  were finally able to corner the band of about 300 protesters on a commercial block in Vancouver’s west end and then formed a cordon around the leaders, sealing them off as the crowd screamed “Let them go!” They were released a short while later on the condition that they disperse.

Police said about 100 masked “criminal” anarchists were marching among about 200 protesters who appeared to be law-abiding. “We still recognize that there are legitimate protesters out there that want to exercise their rights, but we also recognize that the criminal element has taken over,” Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu told reporters.

The syndicated press brought out very few details concerning the protesters other than stating they were organized by the anti-Olympic Committee in support of the indigenous people of Vancouver whose slogan was, “No Olympics on stolen Native Land”.  In the quick, brush-up job of journalistic cosmetics, the motivations of the angry crowd appeared as pointless as protesting that exchanging the regional area of New York City for blankets and beads was an unfair bargain.  Sure, it was unfair, but it was in the past.  Get over it.

Why the Rumble

According to the Olympic Resistance Network, the issue is far greater than that.  In their Anti-Olympic 2010 Handbook, they claim as early as 1880, the Indigenous people of British Colombia began protesting the theft of their land and resources.  Unlike other regions in Canada;  British; and later, Canadian officials; failed to make treaties surrendering Native land and title to the Crown.  With the exception of a few small treaties on Vancouver Island – the Douglas Treaties of 1850-1854 and a portion of Treaty #8, British Columbia remains sovereign territory.

In 2003, several months before the bid decision was made, the Squamish and Lil’wat Councils  made a deal with the government of Canada that included 20 million dollars in cash and land, plus a Squamish-Lil’wat Cultural Center to be built on nearby Whistler Mountain.  The deal committed the two tribes to participating in and publicly supporting, the 2010 Winter Olympics. Corporate media reported the deal could make the two tribes the wealthiest in the province,  as by 2007, property values in the Whistler area were so high, the average single family home was purchased for a cost of 1.2 million.

In March, 2008, the British Columbian government made an out of court cash settlement with the Musqueam for over 20 million dollars, ending three court cases over land at the UBC golf course and Rock River Casino.  In June, 2008, the federal government paid 17 million dollars each to the Musqueam and the Tseil-Watuth, making the Musqueam one of the wealthiest tribes in Canada.

In 2004, the four area band council established the First Host First Nations as an official Indigenous Olympics organization, comprised of the Squamish, Lil’wat, Musqueam and Tseil-Watuth tribes.  The FHFN has enabled the government to promote the image of healthy, harmonious relationships between Canada and its First People, while in reality, conditions for indigenous populations as a whole, have declined with the advent of the Winter Olympics.  The FHFN is presented as the only legitimate voice of the Indigenous voices in regard to 2010 and the lands directly impacted.  Their financial and monetary gains from 2010 are presented as if to the benefit of all Canada’s indigenous people.  Neither view is correct.

According to the Canadian government’s Community Well-Being index, which rates communities on income levels, health, employment, education, etc., the average rating for Native communities was 70 and for non-Natives, 85.  The Musqueam was rated 87, the Squamish 84, and the Tseil-Wahtuth at 92.

Combined, the FHFN has a total population of between five and  six thousand members.  In contrast, the total Native population of Vancouver consists of approximately 60,000 people, most of whom are being negatively impacted by the Olympics.  In the tradition of most cities that have sponsored the Olympics, Vancouver’s efforts to present itself as affluent and thriving has criminalized the poor. As part of Project Civil City, new laws have passed to make begging for money and sleeping outdoors criminal acts, new garbage cans make it difficult to dig through, and new outside benches make it impossible to lie down. In the interest of security, , Vancouver deployed approximately 12,500 police, military and security personnel to maintain order within its Olympic limits.  In the opinion of many Canadians, Vancouver has become virtually a police state.

The costs for hosting an Olympics games are astronomical.  Vancouver’s has been no exception.  “The winning of a bid for the Olympic Games is the result of a long process that typically costs aspiring hosts tens of millions of dollars… largely funded by public monies but dominated by local elites—industrialists, media moguls, owners of hotels and tourist attractions, advertising companies—for whom the bid process itself produces marketing opportunities to associate themselves with the Olympic rings. The city that wins then enters a long process of preparation, invariably involving major facilities and infrastructure projects that radically change the face of the host city and cost the public hundreds of millions of dollars.”
(Inside the Olympic Industry, p. x)

In March 2007, John Furlong, CEO of VANOC, stated “This is a massive project to manage, a project that’s north of $2 billion” (24 Hours, March 14, 2007) The estimate did not include costs related to infrastructure and security, estimated at an additional four billion, all to be paid by tax payers’ dollars.  The 1976 Montreal Olympics acquired a debt of some $1.2 billion, which was finally paid off in 2002.  The main benefits from the Olympics will serve the news casters, the advertisers, the business community; primarily in tourism; and a few athletes who walk home with gold, but will do very little to increase the income for the rest of the populace.

Say Goodby to Sea and Sky

Added to the list of grievances by Canada’s anti-Olympics committee, is the environmental impact of the Olympic games; primarily the re-routing of the Vancouver–Whistler Sea-to-Sky Highway that joins 2010 Olympic venues between the city and the ski-resort town. The original 74 mile (120 kilometer) highway has been described as “beautiful but treacherous”.  The single lane highway snaked through a series of mountain ledges with the churning ocean a straight drop far below.

It was decided in order to do this, they would have to shave a few minutes off the winding trip but cutting through Eagle Ridge Bluffs and widening the road at Horseshoe Bay into a four lane highway.  To do so was to cut through a very fragile eco-system, disturbing rare plant life and various animal species.  “We know the strongest predictor of species loss is habitat loss,” says Arne Mooers, a biodiversity biologist at Simon Fraser University. “The whole place has been ecologically damaged beyond repair.”

Cutting through Eagle Ridge Bluffs destroyed a nesting area for bald eagles, and removed the arbutus trees,  eliminating a rare ecosystem. The Mininstry of Transportations’s own report to the provincial Assessment Office stated that Eagleridge Bluffs and the Larsen Creek Wetlands are “extremely rare, unique, highly susceptible to disturbance and regionally rare.”

This strikes a sour accord with the Vancouver campaign of a “green” Olympics.  While the triumph of gold glitters, there is an agony of defeat that began before the games ever started.  Much has been sacrificed to support the games; stability, values, well-being and an ecological system that can not be replaced.

Many of the events left one with the uneasy feeling that instead of presenting athletes in the spirit of the Greek founders,  they were more reflective of a Roman Coliseum.  Many of the judges’ rulings have left one puzzling if this was a true appraisal of skills and abilities, or a popularity contest.  A sense of snobbery and elitism pervade the Olympics as the media picks through its golden stars.  In my opinion, the only Olympic star to shine this year was Shaun White.  Retaining his integrity as an individual personality, he captured the attention of a youthful population that has long ago put aside any heroic aspirations for the conscious knowledge that they are under the yoke of a seriously indebted society.  I think that for the Summer Olympics, they should introduce disc golf.

http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/35369187/ns/sports-olympic_sports/

http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/zontv/2010/02/nbc_olympics_dead_georgian_lug.html

http://www.vancouverite.com/2010/02/12/two-cops-injured-in-olympic-riot-in-vancouver/comment-page-1/

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=highway-of-good-intentions

http://vancouver2010insider.ca/node/11

About karlsie

Some great perversity of nature decided to give me a tune completely out of keeping with the general symphony; possibly from the moment of conception. I learned to read and speak almost simultaneously. The blurred and muffled world I heard through my first five years of random nerve loss deafness suddenly came alive with the clarity of how those words sounded on paper. I had been liberated for communications. I decided there was nothing more wonderful than writing. It was easier to write than carefully modulate my speech for correct pronunciation, and it was easier to read than patiently follow the movements of people’s lips to learn what they were saying. It was during that dawning time period, while I slowly made the connection that there weren’t that many other people who heard the way I did, halfway between sound and music, half in deafness, that I began to understand that the tune I was following wasn’t quite the same as that of my classmates. I was just a little different. General education taught me not only was I just a little isolated from my classmates, my home was just a little isolated from the outside world. I was born in Alaska, making me part of one of the smallest, quietest minorities on earth. I decided I could live with this. What I couldn’t live with was discovering a few years later, in the opening up of the pipeline, which coincided with my first year of junior college, that there were entire communities of people; more than I could possibly imagine; living impossibly one on top of another in vast cities. It wasn’t even the magnitude of this vision that inspired me so much as the visitors who came from these populous regions and seemed to possess a knowledge so great and secretive I could never learn it in any book. I became at once, very conscious of how rural I was and how little I knew beyond the scope of my environment. I decided it was time to travel. The rest is history; or at least, the content of my stories. I traveled... often to college campuses, dropping in and out of school until one fine day by chance I’d fashioned a bachelor of arts degree in psychology. I’ve worked a couple of newspapers, had a few poems and stories tossed around in various small presses, never receiving a great deal of money, which I’m assured is the norm for a writer. I spent ten years in Mexico, watching the peso crash. There is some obscure reason why I did this, tightening up my belt and facing hunger, but I believe at the time I said it was for love. Here I am, back home, in my beloved Alaska. I’ve learned somewhat of a worldly viewpoint; at least I like to flatter myself that way. I’ve also learned my rural roots aren’t so bad after all. I work in a small, country store. Every day I greet the same group of local customers, but make no mistake. My store isn’t a scene out of Andy Griffith. The people who enter the establishment, which also includes showers, laundry and movie rentals, are miners, oil workers, truck drivers, construction engineers, dog sled racers and carpenters. Sometimes, on the liquor side, the conversations became adult only in vocabulary. It’s a good thing, on the opposite side of the store is a candy aisle filled with the most astonishing collection, it will keep a kid occupied with just wishing for hours. If you tell your kids they can have just one, you have an instant baby sitter; better than television; as they agonize over their choice while you catch up on the gossip with your neighbor. We also receive a lot of tourists, a lot of foreign visitors. They are usually amazed at this first sign of Alaskan rural life style beyond the insulating hub of the Anchorage bowl. Many of them like to hang around and chat. They gawk at our thieves wanted posters. They laugh at our jokes and camaraderie with our customers. I’ve learned another lesson while working there. You don’t have to go out and find the world. If you wait long enough, it comes to you.

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20 Comments on “Black Flags Over the Olympics”

  1. It seems almost fitting that as the Olympic show comes to an end that an actor would commit suicide in Vancouver’s Stanley Park. I’m sure that in America that will be the memory that will last;the Olympics of death. What makes the Olympics all the worse is that when the bid was originally approved the committee tersely commented that no public monies would be required after the initial asking. This has not been the case and I imagine for years the Canadian taxpayers will be shelling out their tax money as our memories of the Olympics – and the fact that Canada’s Women’s hockey team kicking butt…

  2. Kudos on the comprehensive coverage of some of the more pertinent factors affecting this latest demonstration of panem et circenses.

    Other than scan the headlines, I haven’t really been following the events. Over the last decade the Olympics in general have left me cold. More than ever they seem to serve the political purpose of “Bread and Circuses”.

    I couldn’t contain my ironic smirk when I read that in television ratings it’s competing with (and being rated against) shows like American Idol.

    There’s much to comment on in this piece… from the incompetence of the organisation itself, to the wanton disinterest in the repercussions it will have on the environment and the indigenous peoples. However, the statement below… shamelessly ganked from Wikipedia… pretty much sums up how I feel about it:

    In modern usage, the phrase [Bread and Circuses] has become an adjective to deride an infantilized populace so defined by entertainment, instant self gratification, and personal pleasures that they no longer value civic virtues and the public life (not necessarily accomplished through deliberate pacification by politicians but through the popular culture itself). To many across the political spectrum, left and right, it connotes the wanton decadence and hedonism that defined the Roman Empire prior to its decline and that may similarly contribute to the decline of modern society.

  3. Great story, K. The black cloud hanging over the Olympics coverage is very timely and socially relevant. Well researched, and very poignantly presented. Its great to see coverage of the indigenous people screwed over by the state. My only disagreement would be painting Shaun White as some sort of hero. Anyone who has multiple corporate endorsements and hangs out with celebrities is not my idea of a rebel. But that’s just me.

  4. Karla, the last commenters have said it all – but I can add with clarity that the Mike Judge film “Idiocracy” is likely our future; while the latest iteration-in-training for future Ice Capades personalities winds down and leaves oceans of trash in its wake, those of us who stayed awake in class and know how to connect the dots are considering the American populace; docile, supine, and clueless; their economy circling the drain and their government all but up for sale; this ‘event’ was the biggest thing on the news – that is, until another ‘athlete’ cheats on his wife, or the new season of “Idol” premiers.

    Panem et circenses, indeed…..

    -W

  5. Mike Judge’s Idiocracy may be one of the most quoted movies on the proboards. Turns out being aware of what’s coming and speaking against it does nothing to turn the tides.

    Nice Work Karla, I am ashamed of our American Snobbery. Not enough to win we must further distance the whole world with our “Eat That!” attitude.

    Disgraceful.

  6. Malice, i’ve been following the Olympics loosely, but from the very start, my attention was riveted by what was going on in the background. It irked me that although there was news concerning the pre-Olympics riots, there was no coverage of the complaints. I finally asked Neo what the hell was going on, and he pointed me in the right direction.

    I can’t really remember the last time there was responsible reporting. I’m beginning to think before news reporters ever sit down to their keyboards they are given a pep talk and told what the news is going to be that day. It’s all laid out in front of them. All they have to do is fill in the spaces. A riot in Vancouver. No, that’s not news. Hide it on the fourth page. A new oil spill resulting from that antique pipeline? Put it away. Who cares how much tundra has been spoiled? They all slip away, these little important pieces of a world in turmoil, while the celebrity set gazes into its mirrors and cameras, perpetrating the illusion that we are still affluent.

    Mitch,it doesn’t really matter to me how much money Shaun White is making. He didn’t cave to a personality make-over. He doesn’t try to pretend he’s flawless. He didn’t cop to one of those sexless super-hero outfits. His team wore the baggy jeans and flannel shirts generally favored by snow-boarders. He remained true to himself.

    Grainne, I thought quite a few of the Olympic try-outs had ghastly personalities. It was as though winning gold was the only thing that mattered. Some were appallingly rude to their competitors, as though they’d taken lessons from Saturday Night Wrestling. Some actually laid down on the ground and cried when they didn’t win the coveted medal. It was an embarrassment, especially since so many of the offenders to good sportsmanship were American.

  7. I have to say that the response of the so-called “authorities” to opponenets of the olympic games (which are a mockery of the original Greek tradition) is what really got my attention – they just dismissed them as “criminal anarchists.” Never mind the blatant contradiction here (as “crime” only exists when “law” is recognized to define it), the willingness of those in power to publically blacklist anyone who won’t tow the party line is very telling indeed…

  8. I’ve heard a great deal of debate between what is lawful and what are statutes determined for upholding the law. As a rule, statutes are not necessarily voted upon. Laws are designed to prevent harm among its constituents. Drinking and driving is a statute, not voted upon, but deemed wise for although drinking is an individual choice, drunkenness on the road hazards other drivers and their passengers.

    I cannot see the policies of the Olympic committee as lawful. The Olympics incur debt to the countries they are held in. They disrupt and harm the lives of the citizens in the hosting town. They damage the environment; which i find very pitiful for the winter Olympics as most winter sports are environmentally low impact. They thrive on the special interest statutes of big businesses, corporations, the powerful and the elite. I consider myself a lawful person, but i will not uphold statutes that are outside the law of community well-being.

  9. On a side note, its always a bad sign when the anarchist group know as the Black Flag Brigade shows up at your protest. Odds are, some violence will be going down. Damn shame really, despite the lame marketing surrounding the Olympics, there are people who trained there whole life for just one moment – and most people showing up to watch understand that. Protesting the Olympics is counter-productive; you aren’t advancing any cause because the people attending a good will event will treat your protest with disdain. I’ve seen Code Pink try something similar here in DC, on several occasions they have protested in front of Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Not only did it bring out the right wing loonies to counter protest, but it got much of the DC area behind the wingnuts. Protesting the wrong event can be the most counterproductive thing a group can do.

  10. Great article Karla, I was aching for intelligent perspective on the whole event, and strangely enough, you were closer to it than me.

    As a Canadian anarchist I can’t help but laugh at the entire spectacle that just occured, yet again the mainstream drowns in meaningless trivia and pumps hard cash into futile endeavours (perform! score some points! get some endorsements! sing along!). But then, we are a nation of hockey lovers (recent survey said 56% of Quebecans consider themselves fans of the Canadian hockey club), we even got an ex hockey player to become senator, for fuck’s sake.

    Yes, a dystopian Idiocracy seems like the more likely scenario.

    YCat, do you have logical arguments to back those assertions? Saying that protesting is counter-productive doesn’t make it so, and if you base your conclusions on the ‘reaction’ towards action (i.e. the Right keeps showing up at the demos) you might need to consider the situation entirely – why are there protests and what are the objectives. I have my own critiques about demos, but ‘not doing anything’ and ‘staying at home’ is exactly the opposite of being constructive, so I wonder what you think the options really are, instead of pointing fingers from the wayside.

    Also, am I the only one who thinks it’s pathetic to even believe a person’s lifetime achievement might be to pump iron and hop on a pair of skies in front of the cameras? Who gives a flying fuck if X athlete breaks Y record? What the fuck does that change in anyone’s freaking life? It’s a ‘symbolic’ victory, and symbols, err, DO NOT EXIST FOR REAL.

    There, I’ve said it, now I feel better.

  11. Raven, I’d state it like this: Protest is as much a marketing event as anything else. The purpose of a protest is to bring attention to a cause, but a WISE protest is one in which you can bring about acceptance rather than disdain. The Code Pink protest incident I cited earlier is case-in-point although I can give you hundreds of other examples, some protests of which I was active in. Hearts and minds aren’t won over by attacking the things that people love. You don’t kick puppies in the face to protest puppy mills. Well, you COULD kick puppies in the face but no one will make sense of it. Likewise, no one will understand protesting the Olympics. It doesn’t matter how morally superior a protester may think the position is, no one is going to take the time to empathize with what they will perceive as a bunch of wackjobs attacking an international goodwill sporting event.

    On the topic of athletics, I perceive viewing groups; some appreciate the amount of work it takes to become an Olympic level athlete, others are nut huggers that root on for nationalistic pride (or worse yet, personality fanboys). All victory is symbolic, and all sports viewership is entertainment. It would , in my opinion, be unwise to underestimate the importance that people place on it.

  12. Hey YCats, thanks for the precision, I agree that as far as repercussions go, protests are little more than a spectacle and shouldn’t be mistaken for much more than a spectacular event. I disagree with you on the need to follow public opinion absolutely, as the voice of the majority is not a guarantee of ethical integrity (for instance, a vast proportion of Quebecans have difficulty accepting homosexuality, immigration, are big fans of sports and cheap beer – that doesn’t mean I should go with the flow, in fact I’ll take pleasure in doing differently) but we do have to be consequent in our actions, as you mention, kicking puppies to save puppies is a contradiction. But how about kicking puppy-mills down?

    Also, I do not underestimate the importance people place in abstract symbols, my opposing the Olympics is not based on a misunderstanding, quite the contrary. So much can’t be said for those who adopt a knee-jerk reaction towards anti-Olympic protest or anarchists in general (i.e. the black flag).

    There lies the difference between acting on principle and just being reactionnary.

  13. I have no issue with the black flag, however I’ve had issues with the Black Flag Brigade inciting violence on otherwise peaceful demonstrations. As a deconstructionist , I understand the modus but I don’t agree with the operandi. The Brigade has been clinging onto many movements and getting good people beat down when it could have all been avoided. In general I deplore violence so its more of my peacenik do-gooder inner self that has issues with them. The old-school philosophical anarchists like Bakunin weren’t trying to incite a civil war on every issue, sometimes you have to rely on the intellectual endeavorers ( like Subversify) to challenge the norm.

  14. Incidentally Raven, I think you’ve already tipped you hat to a few potential articles 😉

  15. YCat, if there hadn’t been a protest, i probably would not have covered any aspects of the Olympics. If you kick a puppy, i’m the kind of person who wants to know why you kicked it. Are you just a mean puppy-kicker, or was this a particularly vicious puppy who has chewed off two of your toes?

    Most minds are reactive. If they witness or hear of a protest, they are immediately for or against, without really examining what is involved in the effort. Protesting by its very nature of confrontation, creates an atmosphere for violence. Most media downplay unpopular movements. It downplays the funds used by individual countries to stage an Olympics, and the consequent debt incurred by the citizens. The media is directly tied to advertising; advertising to business and business is what profits.

    I’m not anti-sports, but when winning becomes more important than sportsmanship, concern for each other or fair play, that sport becomes little more than ill-disguised barbarity. When a sport requires the destruction of fragile ecological systems and jeopardizes the well-being of its host, that sport is nothing more than a flagrant display of elitist privilege.

    I will agree on one point, however. Those who use the assembly of peaceful protesters to commit acts of violence and destruction, are not only sabotaging the peaceful intent, they circumvent the purpose of the protest. Although they bring more publicity, the publicity is focused on the criminal acts, not the message. The message is clear. It’s not about the non-support of athletic prowess. It’s about using that athletic performance to create a circus extravagant and years of debt for the hosting country.

  16. The article notwithstanding, the time to make light of the moral ambiguity surrounding this Olympics was three years ago when the contracts were being signed. Its not like all this just popped out of nowhere. And is isn’t without precedent that shady crap surrounding host cities isn’t something new: see Salt Lake. Still, ask anyone in Utah if they were better off not getting the Olympics and they would laugh at you. The problem I think is that too often social groups are reactive rather than proactive – not advocating environmental and social positions when they ability to affect change when its still possible to alter outcomes.

    Also, if you saw the Irish tent at the Olympics, you’d understand the increase police presence. Only tent with a bar, I’ll leave it at that.

  17. Now don’t start getting all uppity about the Irish! We all know about those closet drinkers who absolutely swear they’re sober! Seriously, though, i agree, the time to protest is in the making of the contract. One thing this Olympics has done for many people of my community, is to consider the desirability of holding an Olympics. We used to find the idea of hosting a winter Olympics appealing, as we have the ideal terrain. Now we think it wouldn’t be such a good idea after all. We’ve already seen what commercialization has done to communities like Girdwood and Denali; virtually throttling the locals out of livelihood; and even what it has done to our favorite regional activities such as the Fur Rendevous and the Iditarod. The pleasures the locals once shared with watching their neighbors compete is spoiled by the crowds of sight-seers, camera men and advertising displays.

    I will say however, they have added a new event to the Fur Rondy that is up the alley of Alaskan humor – the reindeer run – which is basically a parody of the bull charge. The idea is the runners try to escape the thundering reindeer, however reindeer are pretty domesticated. They generally trot up alongside the brave runners and amble beside them, as though to say, “howdy do”.

  18. Ah, now Ycat, them’s fightin’ words…The Irish tent was a medicinal one, and necessary too, how on earth else can people get away from the rampant commercialism, the Irish only offer a place to relax and dance and listen to the music of Angels.

    I do agree the time to worry is during the bidding. The under the table deals that go into hosting the games are worthy of reporting. But there was something especially seedy about Vancouver’s Olympics. As stated, instead of showing the city for the gem it is, It was overrun and commercialized to the point that it looked like some godaweful future city anywhere.

  19. Walter Williams makes a solid point regarding immigration. I am proud of Arizona for the stance they are taking and that we haven’t backed down. The law is clear – Illegal immigrants are illegal, racial profiling is illegal, and we intend on enforcing the laws on the books. It’s nice to see cooler heads remarking on this issue. In light of Game 4 rapidly approaching – Go Suns!!

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