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2010 Olympics Business News for the Vancouver and Whistler regions of British Columbia. Plus, Alberta, the rest of Canada, Washington State, Oregon, Idaho, Montana & California

OlyBLOG Features:

China Chickens Out

70% of BC Residents Want the Feds to Run 2010

How to Profit from the Olympics

2010 Olympics Organic Food for Thought - Did You Know?


China Chickens Out

It appears China is scared to test blog power.

I don't blame them. Never mess with a Geek.

You can't dam the ocean, and if the Chinese government would have detained for much longer the crazy Canucks who unfurled a Tibetan protest poster on the Great Wall, the 2008 Olympics would have taken a political hit they could ill afford. All it takes is one scandal to tip the precarious torch off its base and start a raging forest fire. Salt Lake City and Athens never recovered from the hits they took regarding bribes and poor construction practices. SLC got busted big time for bribing IOC officials, while 44 trades people in Athens died building Olympic facilities and infrastructure. (I'd be interested to see a body count in Beijing.) The last straw for SLC came when judges were also caught cheating during one of the skating competitions. Controversy is the IOC's worst enemy because it makes it very hard to sell the Games to another city.

Smart activists are starting to learn to focus more on the cities the IOC wants to attract, and not as much on a city like Vancouver that Olympics organizations already have signed, sealed, and delivered. It's too late to cry over spilled milk. A local activist's beef should primarily be with the IOC and VANOC, and not our community, which in many respects is also a victim. Don't forget to share information with communities like London too. It's relatively rare that Olympic events are held back to back in cities that speak the same language. The last time it happened was between Atlanta and Sydney, and Sydney leveraged it impeccably. Activists should take advantage of this anomaly and leverage each other's momentum. Londoners are experiencing similar challenges and Vancouver is getting there first, which means the Brits have great incentive to watch closely how it unfolds here.

Since 2005, I've been recommending that the best defense activists have against Olympics organizations wreaking economic havoc in our community is to share information with the entire world about what is happening in Vancouver respective of 2010. Think local and act global. Absolutely no one, not country, corporation, or individual can truly stop the flow of information. Even in a communist country like China, you can't completely censor the internet. Canadian Tibeten activists called China's bluff regarding how much control over the internet China really has. Obviously it's not as much as they would like Chinese citizens to believe. By defusing the powder keg quickly, China's control never gets tested.

Unfortunately, you can't count on local mainstream news media in Vancouver to give our community the support it needs, which means it's up to you. Local news media made it clear it's not their job to help the small business community leverage Olympic momentum. Why should they? It would negatively impact their agenda and profit. They already make a fortune directly and indirectly as a result of the Olympic frenzy they helped create and they don't want anyone sipping from their revenue stream.

John Furlong, CEO VANOC, and Jacques Rogge, President of the IOC, must have been sweating bullets as they watched the Tibetan poster unfurl. Protest leader Lhadon Tethong and her posse had been planning the event for a year.

Their weapon - information

Their modus operandi - a blog.

Tethong knew that international mainstream news media would create the spark to light the wick, but the real threat to the IOC and Beijing was that Tethong made it clear her organization was completely prepared to reach around the world online and use the internet to leverage support.

The Chinese defused the situation immediately. Smart move, but keep in mind that Tethong promised that their passive-aggressive activism is only under temporary reprieve, and that the 2008 Beijing Olympics Students for a Free Tibet movement has just begun. I can't wait to see what they do next. It wasn't luck or a coincidence that activists executed this promotion campaign exactly one year before the 2008 Beijing Games is slated to launch. Activists purposefully took the shine off of China's pre-1 year celebration and focused the spotlight on Tibetans and their plight. The same thing will happen in Vancouver on all our important milestones.

Tethong, executive director of Students for a Free Tibet, and leader of the protest, was detained by Chinese authorities on August 8, 2007. In days previous she visited Beijing Olympic venues and sites like Tiananmen Square to video record their story of Tibet and China. She was eventually ordered to report to the local police station, at which time she disappeared from public view. The next day, Chinese authorities released and shipped her and her partners-in-protest out of the country.

In contrast, the violent anti-Olympics protests you see on the streets of Vancouver don't seem to be working as well. If they did, the homeless would not still be homeless in the Downtown Eastside. The only effect the protests have had is to create political foot dragging and talk of shipping the mentally ill and drug addicted residents of Canada's most disadvantaged community to the neighboring city of Burnaby. Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan's primary solution is to export the problem. If there was ever a time for the Feds to step up and help out in an effort to avoid embarrassment, it is today. The world will see this as a Canadian issue and not just a Vancouver problem. At least they will if small business owners and Vancouver residents position it properly online.

It will take months and maybe years of study to decide whether refitting the long-closed Riverview Mental Institution is a viable solution. By the time local politicians plan-by-committee, the Games will be here and gone, and that is exactly what local news media and organizations like VANOC hope and expect. Olympic organizations know exactly how to stall, and how to effectively manage local violent protest. They've been doing it for decades. To the IOC, it's just a cost of doing business. They also know exactly how to partner with local news media to turn the public against local protesters. (In June of 2007, The Vancouver Sun announced they are now officially bought and paid for by VANOC), which means that CanWest, the Sun's parent company, now has a direct financial stake in 2010. Tethong and her crew understand the news media process, and they used brains over brawn to communicate their position. I'm really hoping the Pivot Legal Society, tireless champions of Vancouver's disadvantaged and marginalized, will focus more energy in this direction too. Hopefully though it won't be too late.

Tethong knew international news media would get the ball rolling, but she also knew it couldn't give her the leverage they needed to sustain global attention and to build enough steam to make a difference, so she bolstered her position by developing a blog network to reach into homes and offices around the world independently. YouTube was part of her arsenal. (Hint: YouTube is free.)

Aboriginals in Australia first developed this local/global tactic as a negotiating tool regarding the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney. They stopped the local Olympic organizing committee cold, and demanded to be treated with respect. They made it clear they didn't want to be window dressing for the IOC. The IOC chickened out there too, especially when Sydney residents launched the sorry campaign. One afternoon, on queue, a quarter of a million people walked across the Sydney Bay Bridge to humbly say sorry to a large group of Aboriginals waiting on the other side. Also, throughout the Games, Australian citizens randomly and silently passed out tens of thousands of white cards to Olympic spectators with a single word printed in black that simply said, sorry. During their closing ceremony performance, alternative rock group Midnight Oil appeared on stage in black uniforms with white letters that said sorry. Olympic organizations never saw it coming and were helpless to curtail the passive protest that spontaneously unfurled in their midst. Just imagine what half a million Vancouverites can accomplish in this era with a blog and an iPhone? Just imagine what Avril or the BNL could pull off? Probably nothing because anyone getting near any Olympic stage today is forced to sign contracts stating they will not mess with the message. But it's nice to dream.

That means it's up to you and your iPhone.

Can VANOC really afford to alienate Vancouverites?

Almost anyone can use a similar process to reach out globally and touch whomever they choose regarding any message they want. One word of warning though, your beef had better be legitimate, and your position fair, or the crowd will ignore you, or worse, eat you alive.

The process you need is basically the same as Tethong's, but the execution will be different. If you feel that rising taxes and artificially inflated property values, or dirty, dusty, noisy construction driven by Olympic frenzy are killing your business or ruining your lifestyle, and that Olympic organizations and local media are not paying enough attention, you too might have to metaphorically rappel down a historic structure and unfurl an electronic poster. Cambie business owners are a perfect fit for this type of promotion strategy, but they keep naively believing that VANOC and the city will treat them fairly.

You don't get what you deserve.

You get what you negotiate.

We don't have a great wall like China, but we do have Olympic sponsors like HBC, Rona, and GM. It would be illegal to climb their walls, and I'm not recommending you break the law, but I'm sure if you put your mind to it you can come up with appropriate and legal ways to convince VANOC and the IOC that you're not going to sit idly by and watch your business and community implode while Olympics sponsors like NBC make a fortune selling advertising to almost 4 billion spectators like they did for each of the last two Olympic events in Turin and Athens. If you have to pay for it you should benefit too, and I don't mean figuratively. A new skating oval, Sea to Sky highway, convention centre, and commuter train line are great, but not at three times what they would cost under normal circumstances. You're paying a huge premium so RBC and Visa can make a financial killing.

Citizen journalism can give you a voice. If you don't know how, contact university students today who will be in their last year at UBC or SFU in 2010. When it hits home for university students that they will be negatively impacted by the Olympics in the year they plan to graduate, they'll hit the road running with e-guns blazing. University students know more about crowdsource techniques and social networking than any generation. It was university students who used the internet and MP3 to bring the music industry to its knees. Not only do they have the energy to help you, they will have incentive, and most importantly, experience. Hell, you might even want to make them a partner if they pull your company out of the fire. On the other hand, if you don't want to start a revolution you should talk to your web developer as soon as possible. Just make sure you contract an online professional with public relations and global promotion experience.

Reputation is the IOC's main stock in trade.

All you have to do is truthfully tell your story
and let the fallout run its course.

70% of BC Residents Want the Feds
to Take Control of 2010 Management

A new poll indicates that 70% of BC residents (1,650 were contacted) want the federal government to take control of the 2010 Winter Olympics. It seems BC has lost faith in VANOC CEO, John Furlong. The poll was conducted by Robbins Sce Research and paid for by Coquitlam BC businessman, Jim Van Rassel.

It's not surprising that most BC residents now feel this way, but the reality is that the federal government already has a very large say in how Vancouver manages the 2010 Games. So much so that they are about to institute new legislation to make it easier for VANOC to impose their will on local citizens. Bill C-47 is the most recent legal change designed to help big businesses realize greater profits at the expense of our local community. The Feds make the rules, but what they won't do is pick up the tab, unless, like in Italy, our local Olympic organizing committee threatens to cancel the Games at the 11th hour unless taxpayers cough up more loot.

In December of 2005, about two months before the 2006 Turin Winter Games, VANOC's counterpart in Italy, TOROC, scared taxpayers with the very real prospect of bankruptcy. It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone by now that 2010 expenses will primarily be covered by dramatically increasing taxes in BC, and especially in Vancouver. In fact, it has already occurred here as early as 2006. If you don't like it, the next time there is a plebiscite regarding an Olympic Bid, make sure you vote. It's a bit late to whine now. Instead, you better figure out fast how you're going to make the best of a precarious and expensive situation.

Click here for more details regarding the Robbins 2010 poll . . .

It is also not surprising that local mainstream news media fail to report these poll statistics, especially considering that "The Vancouver Sun" recently announced they are now on VANOC's payroll. Another poll recently conducted by Robbins indicates that 53% of print news media industry respondents feel that the values and politics of the owners of news media companies affect editorial agenda. 65% also feel that profit affects editorial agenda, while 45% of respondents indicate that advertisers have some form of influence over editorial decisions in the newsroom. Click here for details of the news media poll . . .

Too many Vancouver business owners still mistakenly believe that 2010 can't miss, and that overall it will be good for the community. Unfortunately, the numbers do not add up to support this conclusion. Many people feel that if Calgary could do it, that we can do it too. Unfortunately, Calgary didn't do as well as you might think. If they didn't have the fossil fuel industry to bail them out, and if they wouldn't have stumbled into an uncharacteristically incredible television licensing deal, they would not have been able to leave a perception with Canadians that everything was rosy. Basically, they lucked out and it had little if anything to do with good planning. Read Dick Pound's book, "Inside the Olympics" for details.

It is also interesting to note that in a report commissioned by VANOC, and written by journalist Kate Zimmerman, the Calgary business community never conducted a study after the '88 Games to "examine how the Olympics affected their coffers." You would think that if Calgary did so well, that they'd like to toss around a few numbers to show the world how well they managed the event. Eventually, five years later, an independent company did conduct a study, but unfortunately, critical information regarding tourism and hospitality were mysteriously absent. (On a side note: I was subcontracted to manage a major event for the '88 Olympics, and can say without hesitation, that from a top-down perspective, it was the second most mismanaged live event of my long career. We used it for years as an example of what not to do.)

Don't believe what you read or hear in mainstream news media. Half of it is made up and the other half is missing. Look for yourself if you are doubtful. It's buried in Zimmerman's report on page 18. A word of caution before you click this PDF, don't believe everything you read in this "study" commissioned by VANOC. In some cases the report is accurate, but again, important information is missing, and it's either missing by design, or as a result of poor research or analysis. Regardless of the reason, following it blindly could prove catastrophic to your plans.

If you want to come out of the 2010 Games alive you have no choice but to manage your involvement independent of Olympics organizations. A early as 2006 VANOC was already investing considerable resources putting out fires. Quite literally, they do not have time for small businesses. Besides, it's not their, or news media's job to protect your business or our community. It's up to you.

If you want accurate information, follow this blog
or read my book, Leverage Olympic Momentum.

How to Profit from the 2010 Olympics

The secret to leveraging Olympic momentum is so simple that most people at first find it hard to believe. Thanks in part to local mainstream news media, most people assume the solution is complicated, but the reality is that all you have to do is learn to share information.

Let the world know that you live in and do business in an Olympic region. You don't have to be an Olympic supplier, or ever want to be an official supplier. All you have to do is live in or operate a business here. Go online via your company website or blog, and share with the world your perspective of Olympic related news.

Reach out and touch someone, and use Olympic related news and your proximity to it to connect.

Citizen news is legitimate news.

Talk up our region. Support the Games, and tell everyone what your company is doing to make the event as great as possible. Don't wait for help from VANOC, because as you can see, they are overwhelmed trying to keep their tail out of the fire, and they do not have to time for small companies.

Tell companies throughout Canada and around the world what they should be prepared for, and let them know that it's a great place to do business, but that the Olympics creates unique challenges. Make sure they know how to contact key players in our region, and especially that you are available to give them advice and provide introductions. Create alliances that will work for you, them, and our community.

Most importantly, get out there and support amateur athletes. We all know by now that they need help, and that official Olympic sponsors only provide support for those elite athletes who demonstrate gold medal potential. Locate all those other contenders and lend your support to them, because without all the other athletes that Olympic organizations and official sponsors often neglect, 2010 could not exist.

Amateur athletes are literally your bridge to the podium.

Help them help you.

Since 2004, OlyBLOG has been the leading (and in the beginning the only) news source to provide accurate and balanced Olympic related business strategy information. We literally wrote the book - it's called Leverage Olympic Momentum. As you've witnessed over the last three years, mainstream news media have been derelict in their duty to help our community understand their options. Instead, news media told, and some still do, the Olympic story primarily from a perspective that helps newspapers make money. Unfortunately, it is often at the community's expense.

Some news media are still very clearly Olympic boosters, but by now you probably know whom they are, and if you don't, click here to read all about news media in Olympic regions and here too! Today, in 2007, most people in our Olympic region have a realistic picture of what is really happening regarding 2010 and our community.

Everyone now realizes that our community is going to pay dearly for the Olympics, and it will be way more than anyone at first thought.

You know it, I know it, and Olympic organizations have always known it.

We want to shift gears again at OlyBLOG, and concentrate more on how small and midsize business owners and the general public can leverage Olympic momentum. It is now obvious to everyone that Olympic sponsors like Visa, and Coca-Cola, and RBC, HBC, NBC, Rona, etc., are making a fortune off the Olympics. And we all also know that our community, for the most part, has been shut out of sharing in this wealth. What you might not know yet is how to make a place for yourself on the podium. One of our slogans, "If you have to pay for it you should benefit too," now makes more sense to more people. We want to help make this slogan a reality for more businesses and people in our community.

How are we doing it? Well for starters, we use information from my book to help you see what is playing out in our region. We think that if you can see more clearly that Olympic organizations have always had a plan to exclude you, that you will come up with ways on your own to take advantage of all the opportunity that until recently has been hidden. Part of our plan is to give you confidence to stand up for your rights as a taxpayer and business owner, and to demonstrate that you do not have to sit back and passively wait for the 2010 bill to arrive. Thanks to the internet, you have a voice, which means you now have options that never existed to such a large degree in other Olympic regions.

Here's another few pieces of valuable advice you can bank on;

Don't be fooled when Olympic organizations like VANOC come up with strategies at this late date to include small and midsize companies in their business plan. If they really wanted you at the table they would have invited you to sit down three years ago and asked for your help when they were making plans. Anything they do today is simply posturing and a reaction to the pressure we've put on them. If they are really concerned they should have handled the issue regarding the Olympia restaurant on Denman in a more responsible manner, and apologize to the owners for bullying them so aggressively. Whether the restaurant is right or wrong, VANOC pressured them unfairly.

Be extremely careful when VANOC wants you to sign anything, especially, non-compete or confidentiality agreements. As soon as you do, your rights are severely limited.

Also, don't fall for the "
Once in a Lifetime" pitch.

Once in a Lifetime" is laced with false sentiment that often leaves many companies economically drained. If VANOC wants you to volunteer your time, services and products, they should just come out and say it without having to use misleading slogans.

The reality is that Olympic organizations experience very high "churn rates." The "once in a lifetime experience" is often so upsetting that many volunteers and paid workers never complete the entire run. Olympic organizations hold back money earned, and pay it out only if you make it all the way through to the end. Other than migrant farm workers, what company do you know holds back pay to keep employees on the job? They call it an "AWARD," but in reality it is a bribe. You don't get your money unless you survive the entire period. Many quit after only one or two days after they experience the mass confusion and see how they are treated.

Remember too that ground transportation is usually so mismanaged in Olympic regions that it often takes over two hours to travel a route that normally only takes twenty minutes.

In Sydney, Australia, "The Best Olympics Ever?" the churn rate was 3:1 and in some departments even higher, which means that for VANOC to fill 25,000 positions here they will have to hire three times as many workers or volunteers in order to compensate for people quitting. Make sure you know what you're getting into before you commit your company to a "once in a lifetime opportunity." If it's too good to be true, it probably is.

OlyBLOG can only do so much. At some point you have to take the reins, so don't underestimate the value of the information in this blog and in my book. I explain the unwritten rules, and very clearly demonstrate that what you see happening here happens in all Olympic regions. Sharing and being aware of this information makes it harder for local politicians and news media to pretend that all this insanity is spontaneous and out of anyone's control, when in reality it has been part of their plan from the beginning. If you know what is about to befall you and our community, you can work towards controlling the downside, and make educated decisions that will place you in a better economic position.

2010 Olympics Organic Food for Thought

What you don't know about 2010 could kill your business.

Did you know that house prices, rents and taxes would become so expensive that people would lose their homes because of the 2010 Olympics, and that so many Vancouverites would be forced to move and live an hour outside of Vancouver, and that as an employer you will have to subsidize their travel through increased salaries?

Did you know that Olympic organizations like VANOC will raid your employee roster?

Did you know it was going to cost you so much personally to host the 2010 Olympics?

Did you know that this happens in all Olympic regions, and that our municipal, provincial, and federal leaders all knew this would happen well before we made an application for the Bid?

Did you know that the last three Olympic cities incurred huge deficits, and that none of them benefited proportionately regarding increased tourism or foreign capital investment? According to recent mainstream news reports, Salt Lake City in 2002 incurred a $1.2 billion deficit, Athens in 2004 a $12 billion deficit, and the debt in Turin in 2006 is so high that over one year later they still do not know or will admit what it really cost, although we do know that they threatened bankruptcy and to cancel the 2006 Games unless taxpayers paid the ransom and bailed them out at the eleventh hour - literally two months before their big event. The IOC claims each region is at fault, and basically that the people in these regions are lazy and stupid. What do you think the IOC will say about Vancouver considering that in 2007 our costs have already tripled and we are still three years away from 2010?

Are you curious as to why local politicians didn't warn you about the "real" expenses before our community voted to host the 2010 Olympics?

Have you also ever wondered why local newspapers and television didn't warn you, or at least report both sides of the story so you could make an informed decision?

Does it bother you that young amateur athletes don't have enough money to train properly for the Olympics?

Do you think that official Olympic sponsors like RBC, HBC, Rona, Visa, CTV, etc. should provide more money for all athletes, and not cater so favorably to gold medal hopefuls?

Would you be willing to pay a special Olympic athlete tax so all athletes can train properly? Who do you think pays for the "Own the Podium" program geared for elite athletes?

Would you rather own the podium or own your business and home?

Does it concern you that official Olympic sponsors like RBC, HBC, Rona, GM, Petro Canada, Visa and CTV and NBC make such incredible wealth through their associations with the Games, but that average people in our community pay for the 2010 Games through increased taxes and a skyrocketing cost of living?

The Olympia restaurant on Denman Street in Vancouver, feels that because they have operated in exactly the same manner for seventeen years that VANOC has no right to demand that the little restaurant now changes how they do business. Do you think VANOC is being fair? Do you think John Furlong, CEO, VANOC, should have approached the Olympia in a more civil manner, and that he should have tried to work things out more amicably instead of trying to intimidate and bully the little restaurant into submission?

Did you know that VANOC works for the Swiss-based IOC, and that VANOC and the IOC do not have any legal obligation to protect the interest of our host community? In fact, VANOC is legally obligated to protect the IOC even if it harms our community? Do you think this is right?

Did you know that local newspapers and television companies make a fortune off their association with the Olympics?

Did you know that "The Vancouver Sun" finally came out of the closet and announced in the summer of 2007 that they are now "official" Olympics boosters, and that their loyalty has been bought by VANOC?

Did you know that when a company signs an agreement with Olympic organizations that they are legally bound to protect the reputation of the Olympics even if it is to the detriment of the community. Did you know that this legal obligation extends to and includes newspapers?

Do you trust mainstream news media to tell you the truth about what is really happening in your community regarding the Olympics?

If you had to do it over again, would you vote to bring the 2010 Olympics to Vancouver / Whistler?

Have you changed what you think about the 2010 Olympics since we won the Bid?

Have you changed what you think about VANOC's CEO, John Furlong?

If you knew of a way to leverage Olympic momentum so it worked out better for local businesses and the community, would you support this strategy?

Knowing what you know today, are you still willing to invest your time and money in becoming an Olympic volunteer?

If you want the whole story, click below.

Talk to us before you talk to them ... - the book

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Citizen Journalism

We don't
BREAK the News
We FIX it!

Talk to us before you talk to them.
Leverage Olympic Momentum

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Inukshuk Vancouver / Whistler

Own the Podium?

The official creed (guiding principle) of the Olympics is a quote by the founding father of the modern day Games Baron de Coubertin. He said, "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."

The Olympic motto consists of three Latin words Citius, Altius, Fortius, which means, "Swifter, Higher, Stronger." The 1924 motto is meant to encourage athletes to embrace the Olympic spirit and perform to the best of their individual abilities.

No where does it imply that winning the most gold medals for your country is part of the agenda. In fact it implies exactly the opposite.

The IOC maintains that it doesn't actively encourage countries to collectively win the most gold medals, but on the other hand they also don't institute anything to ensure that the Games are not turned into corporate money grabs.

In fact, IOC sponsorship and partnership business models encourage a win-at-all-costs mentality. It is the reason they have doping, fraud and bribery scandals.

The IOC invites young people to compete in the Olympics using the original Creed & Motto. But when it comes to delivering on the promise they fall incredibly short.

The Olympics today isn't as much about sport as it is about money and profit.

Priorities changed over the years and so too should their Creed & Motto.

If athletes go for the gold, and the IOC goes for the gold, and corporate sponsors go for the gold, and governments go for the gold, and considering that you will have to foot the bill for their gold, why should you be edged out of the race?

Move to the starting line.

Own the Podium?
Own Your Home?

Real journalism consists of
what someone doesn't want published,
all the rest is public relations."
George Orwell

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