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Olympic-sized headaches for VANOC

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[Firstly, congratulation to Squamish's Maelle Ricker for winning gold today in women's snowboard cross.]

Things seem to be going from bad to worse for VANOC -- the "dream team" tasked with making Vancouver's 2010 Winter Olympics a profitable reality.

We are only into Day 5 of this 17-day mega party and already, VANOC has endured the untimely death of Georgian luger, Nodar ­Kumaritashvili, the cancellation of 28,000 spectator tickets at Cypress Bowl for the snowboard half-pipe, ski cross and snowboard parallel giant slalom, electrical problems, confused bus drivers, and long food lineups at Cypress Mountain.

Tonight, Vanoc announced further cancellations of the men's and women's downhill, super combined and giant slalom competitions in Whistler.

While VANOC claims that the British press has been heavy-handed in their reporting of the games, there's no love lost for organizers, especially considering Vanoc as been given full reign over Whistler for the games, while residents endure daily inconveniences, police on every street corner and no public parking.

While VANOC has had plenty of time to move the snowboard and freestyle events to Whistler, it has persisted with the Cypress Mountain venue.


As VANOC's house of cards crumbles and Canada's reputation takes a beating in the foreign press, VANOC refuses to come clean with B.C. residents, who will ultimately be paying for the Owe-lympics.

While I fully support athleticism and friendly international competition, I resent all the hogwash we've been fed by VANOC and government officials since the games were awarded in July 2003.

CBC News reports that "VANOC says they are dealing with cards they've been dealt."

It's hard for me to feel much compassion for lamenting Olympic organizers. No matter what happens, these fat cats walk away with $30 million in bonuses and each Vanoc employee will receive an average payment of just over $23,000 - an excessive amount of money given the economic challenges facing taxpayers.


  • Inclement Weather: While Vanoc is blaming their woes on unseasonably warm weather, organizers had access to years of historical weather data. Climate scientists have been predicting an El Niño weather pattern for years. In 2009, Vancouver Olympic organizers told The Province newspaper that they were ready for whatever weather Mother Nature sent their way this winter.
  • Economy: When the games were awarded in 2003, Vanoc couldn't forecast the pending economic collapse, but it hasn't made any concessions to tone down the games. If the 1976 Montreal Olympics took 30 years to pay off, will we be paying for these games for the next 40 years?
  • Blame the protestors? Renee Smith-Valade, Vanoc's vice-president of communications blamed the Premier's tardy arrival at the opening ceremonies on protestors standing outside B.C. Place Stadium. Interestingly, the protestors were no where near the flame when the hydraulics failed to deploy during the lighting ceremony at the Opening Ceremonies with Wayne Gretzky.

Vanoc's "padded" truths and pollyannaism won't stand up to scrutiny, especially when Premier Gordon Campbell delivers the provincial budget two days after the Games on March 2.


It appears that all is not well with Vanoc's Olympic "smurf" volunteers. Last week, the Whistler Question reported that 40 of the 250 bus drivers who came from across Canada for the Games have quit and returned home, citing "it wasn't what they had expected."

Meanwhile, many Olympic volunteers are starting to resent the 12 to 14-hour work shifts and taking the brunt of the transportation and weather woes. Apparently, some of the disillusioned volunteers have already quit, while others aren't bothering to show up for their shifts.

Sounds like Vanoc's woes are just starting.


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