Rafe Arnott/metro vancouver


Anti-poverty activist from B.C. Persons With Aids takes aim at 2010 expenses during the biathlon competition at the First Annual Poverty Olympics yesterday at the Carnegie Theatre in the Downtown Eastside.


Bedbug mascots, welfare hurdles and the poverty line high-jump were among the highlights at the first annual Poverty Olympics held yesterday at Carnegie Theatre in the Downtown Eastside.

Nearly 200 people turned out to watch contestants struggle through a number of obstacles that humorously represented the serious struggles that many of Vancouver’s poor face on a daily basis.

As contestants crashed through cardboard boxes and pretended to struggle with cardboard computers during the welfare hurdles, MC Creepy the Cockroach stood on the sidelines commentating.

"There are no winners here," he announced loudly to a laughing and cheering crowd.

Despite the laughter, the jokes were meant as an enjoyable way to drive home some serious issues.

"Our government could easily end poverty just by using a mere fraction of their multi-billion surpluses," said Wendy Pedersen of the Carnegie Community Action Project.

"Ending poverty could be an Olympic legacy," added organizer Jean Swanson. "It could be a shining example for the world. B.C. could do it."

The Poverty Olympics were complete with opening and closing ceremonies, medal ceremonies and a reworking of the national anthem.