One week to go until the Olympics and you can feel the change in the air.
I don’t think it’s stretching a point to say these Games have been controversial (to say the least) for years. So much so that Douglas Haddow of the Guardian has characterized us as a city “gripped by dread.”
And the controversy continues this week with the unveiling of the volunteer uniforms for medal ceremonies. “They look like the outfit my grandmother wore when she emigrated from Russia in 1910,” one unimpressed woman said on the radio.
Speaking of Russia, how about the Downtown Eastside Connect, the bizarre Potemkin village for the homeless, complete with a human “library” of homeless people who will tell their story for an “honorarium,” surely the most cringeworthy idea in a string of same from the mindset that brought you fake Cowichan Olympic sweaters.
“Sorry, we’ve spent all our money on the Games (at least $6 billion and counting by my calculations), and we can’t afford to actually build homes for the homeless, so we’ve built this swell pavilion instead and employed the endearing indigents to amuse you with their various plights.”
Still, despite all that gold-medal bone-headedness, Vancouver just can’t help itself: We’re starting to get Olympic fever.
It’s everywhere. Flocks of uniformed Olympians are wandering around town looking like refugees from the Tri-Wizards Tournament at Hogwarts. It’s easy to tell the coaches and officials from the athletes: They’re the ones who are chain-smoking and out of shape. The officials, that is.
Then there’s that sculpture compound on Granville. I’m not sure exactly what’s going on, but it’s exciting, especially if you find bumper-to-bumper art exciting.
Then there’s all those Olympic GM SUVs whizzing around town, emitting greenhouse gases that will have to be offset in the spirit of the greenest Olympic Games ever.
And, finally, we are actually starting to talk about the Games themselves, now that Sports Illustrated has published its prediction that Canada will not own the podium after all, but finish with 30 medals to Germany’s 35.
Momentarily distracted from dread, we demand a recount. If we’re going to spend all this money, we better come first, dammit!
According to SI, the U.S. will have to settle for third place with 27. I guess that’s why Washington is sending U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden to Vancouver instead of the Big Guy, who has suffered enough embarrassment in his first year in office.
Anyway, Joe understands our pain. He’s used to being No. 2.
Let the Games begin! Maybe we can supply Douglas Haddow with a happy ending after all.