Whining now an Olympic sport, it seems


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VANCOUVER -- It was alive. It was electric. And everywhere you looked, fans in red and white were blasting horns and belting out off-key versions of O Canada.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 18/02/2010 (4786 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

VANCOUVER — It was alive. It was electric. And everywhere you looked, fans in red and white were blasting horns and belting out off-key versions of O Canada.

All this after Canada had just spanked Norway 8-0 in men’s hockey.

It was in that moment — my mind gleefully sprinting forward to imagine what the scene might be like after a possible gold-medal win for our lads — when a columnist buddy of mine turned to yours truly and grumbled:

"You know, they should really call these ‘The Stupid Games.’ "

Huh? Come again?

My friend then spent the next few minutes bitching and moaning about the lack of snow at Cypress Mountain, the buses breaking down, the security fences that prevented fans from getting near the Olympic torch, the protesters, the malfunction with the torch-thingy at the opening ceremony, the…

And so on and so on and so on.

Unfortunately, that kind of thinking is everywhere here at the XXI Winter Olympics and it’s being echoed by media outlets all over the globe. Among the headlines we’ve already read: Shameful Absolution; Money Poorly Spent; True Bilingualism is Games first loser; Mishaps plague Games; Broken, lost athletes’ buses cause Olympic transport chaos.

Oh, and get a load of this — courtesy The Guardian in London — on Canada’s aggressive ‘Own the Podium’ goal:

"For such a gifted and graceful people — think of Leonard Cohen, Robbie Robertson and Mary Margaret O’Hara — the Canadians have committed a grotesque error in their approach to the Winter Games.

Quite apart from that lethal luge track, their ‘Own the Podium’ programme constitutes the most egregious show of superfluous aggression by an Olympic host since… well, let’s not cause undue offence. Oh, all right, 1936. Olympic hosts are judged by the warmth of their welcome and the efficiency of their organization, not by their medal count. London 2012 should take note."

So now we’re getting compared to the ’36 Summer Games in Berlin? The games in which Adolf Hitler promoted Aryan supremacy? Gimme a break.

And so all of this leaves me with one pressing question:

When, officially, did whining become an Olympic sport?


Look, none of this is in any way an attempt to gloss over the tragic death of the Georgian luger last week and the subsequent decision to explain the accident as a result of ‘athlete error’ by the International Olympic Committee was an asinine public-relations gaffe.

But some of this stuff is way over the top. Already some of the international press are calling these Games the worst ever.

Really? The worst EVER less than a week into the event?

Hey, if a bus breaks down carrying an athlete to a venue — as it did for Jenn Heil — then, yeah, that’s a concern. If timing errors screw up the biathlon event in Whistler then, certainly, somebody seriously deserved to get their butt chewed out afterward. But the complaints about the weather? Sorry, unless you’ve got connections upstairs there’s nothing the organizers can do about that.

Here’s another doozy: Free Press photographer Phil Hossack was chatting with a Russian photojournalist who complained about there not being anything good to eat in Vancouver. Honestly, all you have to do here is stumble out of the main press centre here and walk a couple of blocks to find any one of many world-class eateries. A day later, Hossack spotted the same guy downtown… walking out of a McDonald’s. McSea Bass and McFettucini anyone?

Before we go on, an admission: this is my first Olympics and we can’t play the comparison game versus the other Games. But it seems to me you also don’t have to look too far to find the good here, from people wrapping themselves in the flag and celebrating our country to the already-memorable athletic performances served up by athletes all over the planet.

Said Renee Smith-Valade, the director of communications for the Vancouver organization committee: "It’s a little bit like lost luggage. It’s not whether your luggage gets lost, it’s how you deal with it. We are dealt the cards we are dealt with, we have done everything we could to put in place the very best plans."

Well said from this vantage point.

Finally, if my journalistic colleagues in London and Russia think weather won’t be a concern in 2012 in London or that athlete access for the venues will be wide open for the Winter Games in Sochi in 2014, then a small request to my editor:

Sign me up for both, boss, because I want to be there to chronicle what Olympic perfection looks like.



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