Why does Vancouver not deserve to host the 2010

Winter Olympics
By Russell Brooks
Thousands of Canadians were elated on July 2, 2003, when International Olympic
Committee President, Jacques Rogge, announced that the 2010 Winter Olympics would
be hosted by the cities of Vancouver and Whistler. By the same token, many Canadians
were saddened when the city of Toronto lost to Beijing for the 2008 Summer Olympics.
As for me, from the standpoint of a former Canadian Track and Field team member who
has represented Canada on the world stage, I didn’t lose a bit of sleep over Toronto’s loss.
Neither did I cheer the Vancouver-Whistler victory. When one analyzes the struggles that
Canada’s budding and elite athletes face while comparing it to Canada’s politicians,
athletic organizations, and most big businesses that sit on large piles of money, no
Canadian city has earned the right to host any Olympic, Pan-American, or International
amateur sports events.
In April 1999 while I attended Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, I received an
email from Athletics Canada. They informed me that I was pre-selected to represent
Canada in the 100 metres, the 200 metres, and the 4x100 metre relay at the World
University Games, that were to be held in Palma-de-Mallorca, Spain the summer of the
same year. One could imagine how excited I was. I remember screaming out the loudest
cheer that could be probably heard blocks away, running a victory lap around the block,
and being on the phone with my parents in Montreal to give them the news.
After all, I trained myself to death, going through hamstring injuries on a yearly basis,
coming home late at night from track practice to start my homework at 7 PM while I was
in high school (8 PM in the winter because I had a one-hour commute on public transport
to the Montreal’s only indoor track facility at the time). I would sometimes finish my
homework as late as 1 AM. My social life on weekends was non-existent. The previous
year I had run a personal best of 20.89 seconds in the 200 metres, which was the second
fastest time in Canada at that time behind Olympian Bruni Surin. For once, my
achievements were finally recognized.
In my excitement I continued to read the email: Please be available between the dates
of…blah blah blah…and most importantly, please come up with $1100 to pay for your
flight from Montreal to Palma. For the sake of keeping this essay under 100000 words,
I’ll omit the long set of expletives that flew from my mouth over the next hour. I reread
the email three more times, hoping that I misread it. Unfortunately I did not. I, a full-time
university student on partial scholarship, who was not allowed to work for cash under
NCAA regulations, had to come up with $1100 within a month or forfeit my opportunity
to participate on the world stage.
I questioned some of my peers on a Canadian track and field internet forum about the
issue. Some of the replies, some of them from Athletics Canada employees, were that I

should apply for loans at certain organizations to help me. I replied to them, asking why
there isn’t a committee within Athletics Canada taking care of this issue. Let’s be
realistic, their reps were getting a free trip to Spain after all. One would think that it was
their responsibility to ensure that all selected athletes get all of the funding. I was about to
take my final exams within a few days and wouldn’t have the time to stress myself over
this. Not surprisingly, no one could answer me. I got to go eventually, but only because a
family friend— a pensioner—paid for me.
This was how things were for me back in 1999, and I didn’t get much more in terms of
financial support after, either through the government or sponsors. When I graduated, I
had to get a full-time job as an insurance salesman in order to survive. My story is typical
of what thousands of Canada’s athletes go through each year. And based on what I’ve
read recently in the news
Canada’s top athletes and up-and-comers are still struggling as I once have.
The atmosphere always changes when it is an Olympic year. One cannot turn on the
television, listen to the radio, or open a newspaper without being hit with an Olympicthemed commercial. The common theme is: We support Canada’s Athletes. Interestingly,
most of the same companies are absent the three other non-Olympic years when the
athletes are killing themselves to get selected to a Canadian team. This hypocritical
attitude that Canada’s business community has towards amateur sport only strengthens
the fact that when the 2010 Olympics come to Vancouver, the only winners will be
Canadian businesses and the Canadian government who’ll profit from tourist-inflated
dollars and sales tax dollars respectively. The biggest losers will be Canada’s athletes,
who will highly unlikely get their fair share of the profits, no matter how well they
perform. It is a very sad reality, but Canada’s athletes are nothing more than modern-day
slaves to the benefit of Canada’s business community, its athletic organizations, and its
The facts presented above represent a history of Canada’s failed commitment to its
athletes. It is unacceptable that Canada is classified as an economic superpower, but lags
far behind most third-world countries when it comes to showing commitment to the
development of its athletes from elementary school and onwards. It is not acceptable for
Canada to ignore its young promising athletes in their developmental stage, yet, only
support them financially when they’re at the world stage.
As for Canada winning the Vancouver Olympic bid, that was nothing earned and
completely undeserved. The real champions in the big picture are the athletes, including
their families, coaches, and peers that have supported and nurtured them from the
beginning, most of whom will not get much in return. To all of Canada’s athletes,
whether they make the Olympic team or not, whether they make it to the podium or not,
every one of them will get a thumbs-up from me. As for Canada's CEO’s and its
politicians that will see their personal bank accounts fatten as a result of these games, you
get a thumbs down.

Russell Brooks is the author of the upcoming action/thriller, Pandora’s Succession.
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