Confessions Of A Hypocrite

When Vancouver and Whistler were first awarded the 2010 Olympic Winter Games seven years ago, I was less than enthused. I’ve never been a fan of the Olympics generally and wasn’t pumped for them to be held in British Columbia specifically. My sentiments spent the next near-decade snowballing, tangling up in an avalanche of over-spending, criticizing reports, suffering social programs and homelessness to name a few. While you can talk to me until you’re blue in the face, I will never, ever agree that athletic facilities trump any of the problems within our Province that are rapidly deteriorating. That said, I also can’t deny the fact that the Games are very much here.

This is where I admit to waving the white flag, eat my words and declare my own hypocrisy. Despite it all, I am very, very excited for the celebrations at hand.

Ohhh... Canada

I suppose it began last Thursday. I made my way to 49th Avenue in an attempt to catch Steve Nash carry the torch and felt entirely unpatriotic. In a sea of red and white, I stood out like a sore thumb in my purple basketball jersey. I intended to get Nash’s attention and, seemingly, it worked. Without red and white, I felt entirely alienated so made the decision that I’d actually sport Canada’s colours the next day as the torch made its way past my office downtown.

The excitement on Georgia Street Friday morning was incredible with a sea of proud Canadians stretched, quite literally, as far as my eyes could see. And as we cheered, applauded and shouted, everyone was speculating who’d ultimately light the cauldron that night at BC Place Stadium. I had to admit that even I, the Olympic Cynic, was curious. [Cue that white flag I was telling you about.]

Curled up on my couch that evening, I sat mesmerized as so many of the beautiful elements of our country’s culture unfolded before millions of eyes around the globe. British Columbia is only a fraction of the rich tapestry that is Canada, made up of people, images, songs, history and events that have shaped and transformed the home in which you and I live today. Perhaps the hydraulic issue served as an unintended measure of proof that, despite how breathtaking Canada is, it is not perfect. We’d be fools to deny such flaws exist but can instead unite in the pride that threads through us all and hope that one day we’ll see a country in which the final pieces click into place.

I’ve been called many names in the past: Homebody, Little Miss Anti-Social and even Not A Joiner. While those labels can certainly ring true at the best of times, now is not one of them. The movement and spirit of Canadian pride has spread across this city like wildfire. Think of Vancouver as being likened to Zombieland – minus the fleshy tenancies but instead with a healthy dose of infectious patriotism.

The ’round-the-clock music, cheers, screams and partying no longer cause me to roll my eyes but instead stifle giggles. If anything, this event has served as a personal reminder of how truly magical British Columbia is. It’s easy to take the mountains and ocean and blue sky and fresh air for granted each day when it’s on my doorstep. To be given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see those elements of our nation through the eyes of countless international visitors is a gift. While I certainly refuse to turn a blind eye to the critical needs on the streets of my city and in the towns of my province, it would also be a shame were I to miss out on such an amazing opportunity in my own front yard.

The strangest thing about this all is the notion that in a few short weeks, the streets will have emptied out, Robson Square will be once again quiet on my early morning walks to work and we will all be left wondering if it was just a dream…

10 Comments on “Confessions Of A Hypocrite

  1. Great article Keira, this town certainly is a great place to be right now. I highly recommend visiting all of those international houses, and playing with the world. The nightly light shows, and fireworks have been spectacular, and for all the kinks and quirks, VANOC has done a spectacular job of keeping the fun alive. This will be a great legacy for Vancouver and for Canada.

  2. Yeah Russ felt the same way as you did about the Olympics. He wasn’t happy they were coming, but he put up with my excitement. That all changed 6 days ago when we saw the dress rehearsal of the Opening Ceremonies. He was blown away by them and started to get really excited. We have visited many of the free sites and pavilions and he is enjoying the crowds and the wonderful red and white everywhere.

    This is what the Olympic spirit is all about. It’s about unity, about sportmenship and about having fun!

    Welcome!

    (boy I almost sound cultish)

  3. I probably have been considered by others to be anti-Olympics all along, too (although for different reasons than you). So as long as we’re at the confessional….

    Knowing what’s going on in sports is a part of my job, but I’m finding that I’m looking for information about the things *surrounding* the Games as well–business, weather, media coverage, etc. And perhaps if I were in Vancouver, I would be caught up in it at the same level you are.

    Thanks for the great post.

  4. Pingback: Vancouver 2010: Day 6 – Mailing it in → johnbollwitt.com

  5. I was employed because of the necessity of building olympic facilities in 06-08, so it would’ve been hypocrtical of me to be anti-olympics. You may not be aware that every facility has a “legacy” component that was planned ahead of time – the firm I worked for, for example, designed two sets of drawings, one to be constructed for the olympics, and a plan for conversion afterwards to be used for community functions; in this particular case, a library and classrooms. It’s not just athletic facilities, it’s also community facilities that Vancouver is getting because of the olympics. And in some cases, planned infrastructure, like the Canada line, was pushed through earlier than it would have been otherwise, which will definitely benefit the city in the long term. The games ARE costing a lot, but we are gaining facilities and infrastructure that never would have received federal funding otherwise, nor been installed so quickly. And finally, it’s a fallacy that the money that was thrown at the olympics would ever have been used to help homelessness or on social causes. That money was specifically spent for the olympics, which is a mercenary truth but a truth nonetheless. In fact, the Woodward’s building in the athlete’s village is the first developer building downtown to provide low-income non-market housing alongside market housing, a move which I consider long overdue and very necessary.

    I really enjoyed this post, especially the description of the energy downtown. I’ve been experiencing the crowds on Robson and Granville and at Canada Place, and it’s been wonderful. I just thought I’d add two cents worth of my own experience of what is really gained by what’s been built for the olympics.

  6. Ditto what you said.

    Mike is trying to find me one of those Canada winter toques with the pom-pom on the top.

  7. I don’t mind the “Olympic Spirit” during daylight hours, but the 10pm-4am crowds (which I call the “New Years Eve crowd”) are just too much. EVERY night, it’s just about getting wasted and acting a fool in public.

    Living one block from Robson & Granville, my partner and I have had to resort to earplugs just to get to sleep.

    I mean, it’s 4:41am right now and looking out my window there are still hundreds of drunk people (and dozens of watchful police) roaming the streets aimlessly, shouting non-sense at whoever is willing to listen.

    (And on any given night Seymour Street usually smells like vomit after 10:00pm. Olympic Spirit, indeed)

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