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Guardian Predicts Disaster


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This has got to be one of the snarkiest preview pieces I've ever sen before a games.

Vancouver's Olympics head for disaster

Two weeks before the games and with police officers on every corner, Vancouver is far from an Olympic wonderland

Douglas Haddow

It's now two weeks until the start of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic games, a city-defining event that is a decade in the making. But a decade is a very long time. Much of what seemed sensible in the early 2000s has proven to be the opposite: for instance, allowing investment bankers to pursue profits willy-nilly was acceptable when Vancouver won the bid in 2003, but is now viewed as idiotic. So it comes as no surprise that just days before the opening ceremony, Vancouver is gripped by dread. Not the typical attitude for a host city, but understandable when you consider that everything that could go wrong, is in the process of going wrong.

Vancouver has been continually ranked as the world's most livable city. An Olympic sized-dose of gentrification would only serve to speed up Vancouver's transformation from a livable yet expensive city into a glitzy hotel for international capital. But these neoliberal dreams are now little more than fantasy. In the mid-2000s the games were originally slated to cost a pittance of $660m and bring in a profit of $10bn. This ludicrous projection was made before the market crash – an event that the Vancouver's Olympic committee failed to anticipate.

"The Bailout Games" have already been labelled a staggering financial disaster. While the complete costs are still unknown, the Vancouver and British Columbian governments have hinted at what's to come by cancelling 24,000 surgeries, laying off 233 government employees, 800 teachers and recommending the closure of 14 schools. It might be enough to make one cynical, but luckily every inch of the city is now coated with advertisements that feature smiley people enjoying the products of the event's gracious sponsors.

Conservative estimates now speculate that the games will cost upwards of $6bn, with little chance of a return. This titanic act of fiscal malfeasance includes a security force that was originally budgeted at $175m, but has since inflated to $900m. With more than 15,000 members, it's the largest military presence seen in western Canada since the end of the second world war, an appropriate measure only if one imagines al-Qaida are set to descend from the slopes on C2-strapped snowboards. With a police officer on every corner and military helicopters buzzing overhead, Vancouver looks more like post-war Berlin than an Olympic wonderland. Whole sections of the city are off-limits, scores of roads have been shut down, small businesses have been told to close shop and citizens have been instructed to either leave the city or stay indoors to make way for the projected influx of 300,000 visitors.

Vancouver's Olympic committee has also assumed the role of logo police. Librarians are being commanded to feed McDonald's to children while unauthorised brands have been banned from Olympic venues. Worse yet, they've begun to casually slip clips from Leni Riefenstahl films into their Coldplay-soundtracked promotional videos.

This manic mix of hype and gloom is a byproduct of the games' utter pointlessness. For those who have been planning their resistance since 2003, Vancouver is about to become the world's premier political stage. It will be the best chance yet for the Olympics to be derailed and exposed as what they are: a corrupt relic of the 20th century that does little more than gut city coffers and line the pockets of developers and investors. If things go pear-shaped and Vancouverites resort to their riotious ways, at least the city will get its money's worth out of that bloated security force and the ensuing spectacle will boost NBC's slumping ratings. After all, the Olympics are primarily a patriotic event, and in the words of the late Howard Zinn, "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism".

The Guardian

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I think that reporter should look at his own backyard before looking at ours...the London 2012 Games are much, much worst off financially. And I have no idea how people come up with $6-billion, unless they ignorantly include the Canada Line, Sea-to-Sky, and the convention centre. The cost of 2010 to taxpayers is $3-billion. The sky isn't falling, but it's always easy to report that it is.

I didn't believe that security would cost only $175-million way back during the bid, and I sure am glad it's getting its proper funding.

Vancouver's problems only came about because of the recession, and even with that it's still a much more financially sound Olympics than Athens and Torino.

With regards to 23,000 surgeries being cut, it's only for a one-month period: these are non-vital surgeries like cosmetic surgeries, they aren't life threatening. Similar surgery cuts happen at every Olympic host city as hospitals need empty beds for surge capacity in case something happens during the Games. Not to mention that there's a lower demand for surgeries during the Games because of the extra traffic.

And when you read the article, do keep in mind the mindset of the writer:

“We are a lost generation, desperately clinging to anything that feels real, but too afraid to become it ourselves. We are a defeated generation, resigned to the hypocrisy of those before us, who once sang songs of rebellion and now sell them back to us. We are the last generation, a culmination of all previous things, destroyed by the vapidity that surrounds us.” — Douglas Haddow

edit: he's from Vancouver! No wonder why he's so negative. He's one of those lunatic locals.

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As I've said before, if cities waited until absolutely every financial, organizational, and social problem was solved before bidding for an Olympics, then there'd be no Olympics. City governments are always going to have a bunch of problems on their hands; that's a part of life.

Canada is one of the best countries in the world to live in with one of the highest HDI's. I'm sure the Vancouver games will be splendid! smile.gif

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Some of the information is misleading. Elective surgeries in the Vancouver area have been postponed until after the Games just as an "in case" measure. That's been a plan for a long time. The schools being closed are mostly small rural schools where the population is dwindling and more centralized schooling is being implemented. And a police on every corner? Hardly!

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These sorts of opinion pieces p33 me off! What librarians are being forced to feed McDo to kids? This is nothing more than typical tired 60s ex-radical leftie poop. Critical of everything, never in favour of anything positive, always citing "issues" for avoiding the realm of the heart, the spirit. They also think there should be no arts funding until there are no more poor people in the world. Never, in other words.

They don't speak for me, they don't speak for BC or Canada. They speak for their own misanthropic selves.

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Well you can't argue with polls that clearly indicate that the public is divided about the Olympics in BC. Opinion polls are substantially better in Ontario and the eastern provinces compared to BC.

I agree the much of the complaints are baseless. I especially take issue with the schools. If anyone had half a brain they would realize that the last of the baby-boomers kids are in their final years of high school and therefore enrollment is going done and shifting in demographics as different neighborhoods being family while others are young or older. For instance my elementary school has experienced a drop from over 500 kids when I was in grade 8 to around 350 as of this year. My high school has seen a drop of 300 kids since I left.

Any society needs to balance things, if we only concentrate on the basics we will become austere and things like the Sistine Chapel, Cathedral de Notre Dame or the Sydney Opera House would have never been, we wouldn't have art or culture and the things that define us would be gone. There would be no creative development and art and culture (which I include sport to be) is a pure expression of spirit and soul, it gives us an insight into ourselves that we can't see by just looking at the numbers. And it provides enjoyment and an escape. Art and sport have existed since before civilization and they continue to be an important part of society and culture. To ignore this is to be willfully ignorant and to that there is no excuse.

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