Thursday, February 18, 2010

Media failing to keep perspective on Games problems

Yes, there are problems at Cypress Mountain that still need to be addressed, and the changes to the fence around the cauldron revealed a questionable judgment when it comes to balancing security concerns with public aspirations, (although I did see Gordon Campbell enthusiastically defending what was being done). However, there is a fabulous, infectious spirit in the city that is much greater than what I expected. I assumed the big line-ups to get into the pavilions would be temporary, but I'm wrong; there are continuous line-ups, which seem to be just getting longer!

I agree with John Furlong that both the national and international media are losing perspective in some aspects of their coverage. Yesterday, the lead story on CBC was the injuring of 19 people when a barricade broke at the Yaletown Live City. Yes, it was a problem, and did result in some minor injuries and the cancellation of the concert, but it wasn't really that serious, and in the overall scheme of things, this should not have been the lead story. Similarly, today the lead story is the mentally ill man who got close to Joe Biden. While I agree that the fact that the man is infatuated with Biden is news, I question whether this incident should have been elevated to the lead story and extensive coverage. Of course, there is a desire to embarrass the $900 million security program, (which I abhor) but I think we are approaching the point where enough is enough and it is time to more prominently highlight some of the real successes of these games and related Cultural Olympiad, and there are so many.

In this morning's Vancouver Sun, Furlong correctly noted that there are thousands of things going on and given the number of people in the city, it is inevitable that some things will go wrong. He also acknowledged that there is an obligation to address problems. While I admit that I have been critical of some of VANOC's actions, especially when they didn't demonstrate a real appreciation for the importance of looking after the audience as well as the athletes, I hope that problems will continue to be addressed, and the media will begin to recognize this, and appreciate that some truly wonderful things are happening in the city.

I am very proud of Vancouver.


Anonymous said...

Michael, I generally agree. Too much nit-picking about the little errors, and loosing focus on the overall big success. Don't bet me started on the British press!! Though the failure to adequately plan for and accommodate those 28,000 spectators at Cypress is inexcusable. However, given Canada's medal haul, the actual course at Cypress seems to be doing pretty OK!
I have to complement the City on the LiveCity sites, the Cultural Olympiad and related programming. They've done an overall very good job. They're drawing out tens of thousands who couldn't otherwise go to actual Olympic events. And they dealt with the barrier collapse incident quickly, and appropriately (replace in 12 hours!). The crowds and positive buzz in the City are quite impressive.
The lesson we need to take is, how can we do this more often, over time, when the Olympics aren't in town? Let's not revert to our old, tendencies to be stodgy, provincial, security paranoid, and 'no-fun' too much of the time.
We still lack a major, city-wide signature festival to call our own. Perhaps we can take the Olympic experience and develop something long-term.
Cheers, Dave.

Michael said...

Dave,I agree. I am trying to keep track of all the 'olympic legacies' that we might nurture as we move forward. While I don't think there will be a lot of physical benefits,other than the Callaghan Valley, the Speed Skating Oval and Curing venue, (and yes Vince, possibly the train, there may a lot of social legacies, including a new attitude to enjoying ourselves in our city. More on this later.