Will Vancouver Games be ‘worst’ ever?

Organizers on defensive over mounting criticism


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VANCOUVER -- Every Olympics has teething problems.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/02/2010 (4790 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

VANCOUVER — Every Olympics has teething problems.

In the first few days, bus drivers brought in from out of town didn’t know where they were going. Athletes settled into their new home and discovered it’s too bright at night to sleep. Broadcasters got ornery when the Olympic rings weren’t positioned perfectly for their beauty shots.

But Vancouver’s Olympics are five days old and the perception is now that the problems are more akin to a toddler’s tantrums: Sometimes they come without warning, sometimes they can be avoided, but either way they will ruin the entire party.

"As Vancouver faces up to Games that appear to have been cursed, there is one positive outcome for London. Many believed that London would be overshadowed hopelessly by the glitz of Beijing in 2008, but Vancouver may have provided a buffer of reality that will make whatever London does look like light relief compared with Canada’s gloom," wrote Kevin Eason in the Times of London. London is the host city for the 2012 Summer Olympics.

The list of challenges is piling up.

Almost 30,000 spectators have been turned away from Cypress Mountain because the standing room area has become waterlogged and unsafe.

Ice resurfacing machines broke down at the speedskating oval in Richmond, delaying competition in some events.

Timers’s errors threw off the results of Canadian biathlete Jean-Philippe LeGuellec and those of a Swedish biathlete medal contender in pursuit races in the Callaghan Valley on Tuesday.

Another British newspaper has groused Vancouver’s Games might go down as the "worst" ever.

The Guardian newspaper carried a story on its website with the headline: Vancouver Games continue downhill slide from disaster to calamity.

The retort by Games organizers and sports officials has been swift.

Which Games are you at, exactly?

"We are in preparation with them (Vancouver organizers) since a couple of years, we have very experienced people here, they know what they are doing. We have no complaints, we are very, very satisfied," said Gerhard Zimmerman of Germany, a delegate of the International Skating Union.

Canadian Olympic Committee president Michael Chambers said Vancouver residents and Canadians in general have embraced the Olympics. Critics in the British media "are not living the same Games I am living," he said.

But the true pall that’s been cast over these Games has nothing to do with weather, transportation or even the millions of details seemingly going askew one by one.

It’s that amidst a celebration of life and human achievement, there was death. The crash on the luge track before the opening ceremony that claimed the life of Georgian athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili stunned the close-knit Olympic organizing team.

"You work seven years, you are really prepared to have a great opening ceremony… Then suddenly you have this terrible news," said Rene Fasel, the IOC member in charge of the Vancouver Games. "For all of us, it was a huge shock. It’s been very difficult to go into the celebration."

— The Canadian Press

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