Okay, brace yourselves:
You are all being too cynical.
I know, right? "Who does this guy, the KING OF ALL CYNIC-LAND think he is?" Yes well, hear me out.
I'm hearing a lot, like, A LOT of bitching about the Olympics lately. The real kicker is that a bunch is from people who don't even live or work in downtown Vancouver. I've been delayed for work, and for getting home. It's no picnic, but I can deal with it for a few weeks. Could money have been better spent? Probably. Disgusting corporate advertising masquerading as sponsorship: present. Yes, it's crowded downtown.
But I've always had a soft spot for the Olympics. There's something special about people from countries all over the world getting together in one place to compete. As a race, the Human race, our entire planet, we have very few shared cultural traditions. The modern Olympics are one of those traditions. When a young athlete wins gold and gets to stand on a podium, holding back tears as their national anthem plays, it makes my heart grow two sizes bigger. That young person knows that they've done something for their country. They didn't have to shoot anyone, or commit espionage, or go into politics. All they had to do was do the thing that they love doing.
So here, now, less than 24 hours before the Olympic opening ceremony, I am excited. Most of all I want to know who will be lighting the flame. And I want to know if it's Wayne Gretzky, so I can no whether or not to squeal like a little girl now and get it out of my system.
Added security? Well, there are no black-armoured men with guns busting down our doors in the dead of night. No random strip-searches on the Skytrain. We're not doing anything more than trying to do the best we can to keep our guests from so many nations safe. And if it were OUR athletes in another country, we would have nothing but the highest expectations for how that country should ensure their safety. I am still the staunchest supporter of civil liberties, but for the next month, just chillax and enjoy the celebration.
Here's three more reasons why the Olympics are great:
This is Robel Teklemariam: Ethiopia's cross-country skiing team. YES. A country with no snow has a skier in the winter Olympics. He came to the U.S. when he was 9, but still holds Ethiopian citizenship. He trains on roller-skis on the streets. He knows his chances for placing are not great; he's just here to do the best he can and represent his country. I hope I see him downtown so that I can give him a big high-five. (via neatorama)
If you're a Canadian hockey fan, for the next two weeks it doesn't matter what NHL team you root for. We are ALL cheering for the same team: OUR team. Let's be honest, there would be few things sweeter than winning Olympic gold on our home soil, and few things more bitter than having to settle for second or third on our home soil. Either way, it's happening here: in my town. If I watch no other Olympic events, I'll be glued to the TV for hockey.
The World as a Visitor
Living in Vancouver and working in the downtown core, I face much more inconvenience than most people in regards to the Olympics. That said, I feel a great deal of excitement when I'm out and about downtown. The streets are full of young people speaking German, French, Japanese, Russian. There are Americans and Brits. They're generally friendly and they love our beautiful city. As an urban Canadian, I'm very used to living in a multi-cultural society. Now that our diversity has expanded even more, I can't say I dislike it.
Adding to that point is the amount of patronage our local businesses get isn't limited to Starbucks or the Cactus Club. Japadog is busier than ever, all the time. And any time Japadog is run ragged with happy customers it makes me smile.
There are dozens of things that I could bring up about why having the Olympics in Vancouver was a shitty idea. But you know what? The Olympics are here, now, and there ARE great things about them. I'll be glad when the hoopla has died down and I can get back to my normal routine. But in the meantime, I'm going to try to enjoy myself, and I suggest that you do as well. We are ALL hosts, let's take care of our guests, enjoy the party, and worry about the mess tomorrow morning.
Posted on February 11, 2010 07:25 PM