Tag Archives: IOC

Kangaroo Kontroversy

Now we’re truly getting down to what the Olympics are all about. The Australian athletes have hung a two-storey flag of the boxing kangaroo outside their residence in the Olympic village. The Olympic village in Vancouver is, like every other Olympic venue, cordoned off and protected by security enough to sink the Bismarck. The only people who might actually get into this “village” are the athletes, reporters, security goons and other bigwigs of Olympic importance. But it is where all the athletes, with their dreams and aspirations are housed. So it makes sense that everyone wants to show team and national spirit.

The boxing kangaroo is not the flag for Australia the country but it is the flag for their sporting attitude and has officially been that symbol since 1983 (Oh and belongs to the Australian Olympic Committee–aren’t they all part of the Olympic “family”?). On top of that the boxing kangaroo was supposedly used on fighter planes in the second world war. Just google it and you’ll see the examples. But the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has deemed it too commercial and have told the Australians to take their flag down. Too commercial. What’s wrong, IOC, are you afraid someone might buy an Australian? It’s not like it’s advertising beer or mitts; it’s advertising Australia’s competitive spirit.

But the IOC has proven that its main purpose is not to promote sports and fun and national competition. Its main purpose is to make tons and tons of money and get big advertising sponsors. It also shows there is no sense of humor whatsoever in the suits and ties gobbling up the money. Where does that money go? Good question.

They don’t pay the athletes, nor the hosting cities. Every city that bids on being an Olympic venue also pays a pretty stiff registration fee that they do not get back. But the money must go somewhere. Well, looking at the IOC’s role and mission this may give us a clue as to where the money goes.

The IOC’s role is to:

  1. Encourage and support the promotion of ethics in sport as well as education of youth through sport and to dedicate its efforts to ensuring that, in sport, the spirit of fair play prevails and violence is banned;
  2. Encourage and support the organization, development and coordination of sport and sports competitions;
  3. Ensure the regular celebration of the Olympic Games; Make that properly branded & trademarked celebration only.
  4. Cooperate with the competent public or private organizations and authorities in the endeavor to place sport at the service of humanity and thereby to promote peace; Organizations like Visa, MacDonalds, Coca-Cola. Yay peace!
  5. Take action in order to strengthen the unity and to protect the independence of the Olympic Movement; The Olympic Movement: is that like a political thing or a just a bodily evacuation?
  6. Act against any form of discrimination affecting the Olympic Movement; So what does that mean in regards to protestors.
  7. Encourage and support the promotion of women in sport at all levels and in all structures with a view to implementing the principle of equality of men and women; Except where inconvenient like those darn female ski jumpers who don’t get to jump.
  8. Lead the fight against doping in sport;
  9. Encourage and support measures protecting the health of athletes;
  10. Oppose any political or commercial abuse of sport and athletes; Get that kangaroo flag down, sports. Get that kangaroo flag down.
  11. Encourage and support the efforts of sports organizations and public authorities to provide for the social and professional future of athletes;
  12. Encourage and support the development of sport for all; But you can’t watch it unless you have a $100 or more for each ticket. So that should be for all wealthy people.
  13. Encourage and support a responsible concern for environmental issues, to promote sustainable development in sport and to require that the Olympic Games are held accordingly; Do you know how many shiny white vans and trucks I’ve seen with the Olympic logo on the roads? Wouldn’t it be better to use old ones in good repair instead of adding more cars to the environment?
  14. Promote a positive legacy from the Olympic Games to the host cities and host countries; But we’ll ignore the fact that only one Olympic host city has ever made money. What’s the legacy: more taxes.
  15. Encourage and support initiatives blending sport with culture and education;
  16. Encourage and support the activities of the International Olympic Academy (IOA) and other institutions which dedicate themselves to Olympic education.

I really hope the Australians keep the flag up the whole time and that other countries add their eagle (US), bulldog (UK), beaver (Canada), etc. to the mix. And I really hope that kangaroo has a middle finger for the IOC’s arrogance and commercial greed.

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Why Protest the Olympics

There are people out there wondering why anyone would protest the Olympics while others are happy to protest anything for the sake of protest and anti-disestablismentarianism. Recently as the torch relay began in Victoria, pre-emptive strikes were taken by the organizers to ferry the torch bearers in a van around protestors. According to other media reports the protestors and police both met their mandate without violence or arrests.

Yet these torch bearers were cosseted away so that the protestors couldn’t protest the relay. Now I don’t know what exactly this group of protestors were trying to raise their voices against in regards to the Olympics but the last I remember (despite the changes to human rights laws that Harper has been making) Canada was a fairly free country with the right to freedom of speech. That means that if we disagree with our government and politics, or if we agree, we are allowed to voice our opinions.

BC MLA Harry Bloy would rather we have a totalitarian state in which everyone is a shiny happy person loving all that the government does. And if not, well then, off with their heads. He in fact stated the following: “People who protest the Winter Olympics are nothing more than terrorists with limited intellect…” Wow. So now we have one of the new catch phrases in our modern vernacular, right after George Bush’s overused hyperbole of “axis of evil”  and the “war on terror” with using “terrorist” for anyone who does something I don’t like.

Here’s how I see the whole Olympics thing. The Olympic sports are a great thing. Having the top athletes compete against other countries in something that isn’t blood and violence is something that should be encouraged. Extolling the best in the world in athletics is a memorable moment and people who excel whether as brain surgeons, ballet dancers, runners or engineers should be acknowledged and cheered for their excellence and skill. I applaud that.

What I do not applaud is the Olympic committee (both internationally and VANOC) which makes their rules over those jurisdictions civic, provincial and federal. What I do not believe in is spending millions, promising the taxpayers all the time that the Olympics won’t run overbudget nor will our taxes be raised (can anyone say HST) to pay for this fanfare…and all the time we know they are going to go overbudget. What I do not support is millions of dollars spent for fancy buildings, some of which are only temporary, while people are losing jobs, and lives, because of healthcare cuts. What I protest is a million dollars worth of free tickets for politicians when nothing has been mentioned on what people who don’t have a $100 for a ticket can see.

I think these are worthy things to protest. Not the sports themselves, nor the athletes. I protest attitudes and security of a greater level than that of visiting heads of state even seem to get. I protest to the fact that anyone who has a problem with so much money gone to frivolity is deemed a terrorist by an arrogant politician who has no clue what it’s like to be underprivileged. I protest to a lowbrow attitude that anyone who dislikes the Liberal government’s brazen disregard for people in real straights (and taking forever to even give paramedics a contract) is considered of low intellect. Mr. Bloy, let’s you and I go take an IQ test and see who comes out on top.

I also protest people who protest anything just for the sake of being contrary, but I don’t believe this is the case with many of the protesters. They want people to know that not everyone is happy with the money being thrown at the Olympics, and when has an Olympics event ever made money for the hosting city? Isn’t it only once in recent memory? It would be better to say that I don’t protest the Olympics but that I protest VANOC and the International Olympics Committee, and I’ll continue to as long as we see unfairness and inequality happening even with this.

http://www.bclocalnews.com/greater_vancouver/burnabynewsleader/news/68785952.html

Addendum: Feb. 14–In light of the fact that this is now getting even more attention, although I wrote it several months ago, I’m going to add to it, to clarify. And to comment to the comments below.

I’m a little amazed that the commenter below equates spending tons of money with fun, joy-filled lives and spending no money with a boring, joyless life. There is quite a range in between no money and some money. Not to mention that, guess what, you can actually have fun and not be bored by spending little to no money. But I’m not going to list activities for you here. Spending far overbudget on the Olympics does not necessarily lead to joy. Did you see anywhere in my post where I said this or that we should spend no money? Nope. What I protest is the overspending and VANOC/IOC’s attitude.

If you’re not sure what I’m talking about read my recent post about the IOC’s attitudes towards Australia’s athletes hanging the boxing kangaroo flag in the Oympic village, or my post of Feb. 9th in regards to overkill on the budget. Here are a few more examples of the wastage of money better spent.

I know someone who was hired to get the communications village built up at Whistler for the various media. A temporary structure, it was already behind schedule and he was the second or third person hired to oversee it. Meetings in Madrid and other parts of Europe and a command to get it done, no matter the cost. He was also replaced by yet another person. Who knows how many to this date but you can bet money was wasted replacing person after person as some used the prestige of having an Olympics contract to push them into a better job, or the ones in charge let people go so they could maneuver in who they wanted.

Here’s another example. Campbell bragged this week of the $450 million spent on sports as part of the Oympics while at the same time his government has cut the arts funding budget for BC from $47 million to $3 million in just two years (that’s over 90% cut which no other area has experienced so drastically). Arts, like all the ones seen at the Olympic opening ceremonies. It’s not wrong to support sports but it is wrong to slash and get rid of arts and then demonize and pit artists against children saying if we give money to the arts we cannot give chidren a school lunch program. Even $47 million is pretty small peanut next to what’s been spent on sports or the Olympics over all. Oddly they didn’t pit the athletes against the children.

I talk to people in this city worried about the raise in taxes that will come (and has in several ways already) because of the Olympics. They worry about their children suffering under the debt that we will still be paying off twenty plus years from now. Yes, the Olympics cost money. That’s a given. But there could have been much more of a middle ground and I for one never believed the glosses that  came out in the beginning where they (politicians of course) promised us that we would not see a hike in our taxes to pay for this and that it wouldn’t run overbudget. Oddly enough, to the commenter below, because of spending all this money we could very well be leading boring and joyless lives for years to come because of the tax burden that we will be shouldering. Next time you choose a book over a movie or a walk in nature over dining in an expensive restaurant, tell me if you’re having a boring and joyless time.

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