I'm Pro-Olympic - with a TWIST, which means I love the sporting aspect of the Games, but hate the mismanagement and reckless spending of tax dollars.
Olympic corporate sponsors like Visa, HBC, RBC, and also local mainstream news media are all making a killing through their affiliations with 2010, and off the back of our community.
All parties involved readily admit local newspapers and television companies are paid big money to tell the Olympic side of the Olympic story. And even though this information is available if you look, most people are still surprised to learn news media companies make a fortune through their association with the Olympics. What most people don’t realize though, until it is too late, is that because of this relationship, news media companies, by default, are biased and often tell you only half the story.
The financial relationship between newspapers and Olympic organizations is legal, but from a journalistic perspective, it’s far from ethical. Unfortunately, unless the law changes there is nothing you can do about it, so you have to make the best of the limited information news companies provide by reading between their lines.
Most people are only now starting to figure out it is going to be harder than they imagined to survive 2010. Many initially believed the misinformation spread by local newspapers that the 2010 Olympics would be good for our community. However, now that local small businesses are being forced out due to construction chaos, high rents, and escalating taxes, the reality is finally starting to hit home. Retailers now go in and out of business so fast on Robson, Denman, 4th Ave., and Cambie it’s next to impossible to keep track.
So far Cambie is the only business community to take their claim to court and in July 2008 announced they will launch a class action suite for $20 million against Translink regarding damages caused by building Canada Line. Granted, Canada Line is not an Olympic facility, but it certainly is part of 2010 infrastructure. The race was on from day one to get the Skytrain tracks completed a few months before the Olympics begin. The Cambie Village Business Association committed $250,000 for legal expenses to bring the case to court.
Taxes are rising through the roof with no abatement in sight. Workers and families leave Vancouver in droves because they can no longer afford to live here. It is now so expensive to operate a business in Vancouver we can’t even support one corporate head office. It’s not only embarrassing; it’s dangerous for the overall health of our community.
Sales of homes are down by a whopping 43% compared to a year previous in June of 2007. It was only a short time ago local newspapers published stories claiming prices would only keep going up. Residents were lulled into a false sense of security while newspapers continued to sell advertising to developers and real estate companies cultivating Olympic frenzy.
How bad is it? West Vancouver, a city actually Hosting 2010 Olympic snowboard and ski events at their local Cypress Mountain ski resort, only recently (June 2008) became an Olympic support city. Why did it take five long years for a city that stands to gain the most to officially become involved? Maybe they know something you don’t.
According to a report in The Vancouver Sun on June 17, 2008, Mayor Pamela Goldsmith-Jones doesn’t want to burden residents with higher taxes. It seems the city is house and tax poor and strapped for cash, and the only way to make West Van an Olympic venue city was to go to six wealthy residents and ask them to pool their resources and kick in the million-dollar entrance fee required by VANOC.
Two of the people who contributed have a vested interest in ensuring 2010 is a success. They own a PR agency and a ski resort respectively. The game plan apparently is to have these six ring leaders lobby the rest of the community in an effort to entice average residents to pitch in economically to help. I suppose if they go to residents directly for funds it won’t seem like a tax burden. Goldsmith-Jones made it clear residents are not supportive of the Games if it increases taxes. I couldn’t agree more, but it’s a bit too late to think about tax hikes now, especially after taxes started to escalate rapidly almost as soon as the bid was awarded in 2003.
It was also reported in July 2008 that pollution In False Creek abutting the 2010 Olympic Village is so high that the government is now forced to legislate new laws to clean up a mess that was ignored for way too long. The elevated level of coliform bacteria in the inner city body of water is so high it actually smells. As a standard rule Vancouver beaches are closed when coliform levels reach 200 ppm. Most beaches in Vancouver hover around 50, while the water in False Creek surrounding the Olympic Village is about 1400. It will be relatively easy for the government to institute new regulations to prevent boats from continued dumping of raw sewage into the water, although enforcing it is another matter entirely, but it's going to be very expensive from the outset to modify storm sewers to stop homes and businesses from dumping human waste into English Bay, which flows into False Creek. Soil on the shoreline has been absorbing this toxic waste for years and it too has to be removed or treated.
Someone has to pay for this clean up, and if Olympic sponsors don't want to inadvertently draw themselves into this controversy, which will inevitably negatively impact their brands, they better think hard before taxpayers are stuck with another Olympics-related bill.
Olympic sponsors are certainly not be responsible for the pollution, but they will be associated with it, and they have the capital to ease the pain for everyone concerned.
The point here is, there is a large volume of capital to be tapped.
If six residents in West Vancouver, some with a direct vested interest can come up with one million dollars, just imagine what large corporations can do if they dig a little deeper.
You’re paying for the Olympics whether you like it or not, and to make matters worse, big Olympic sponsors are making a fortune and benefiting at your expense.
In 2003, almost as soon as it was announced Vancouver won the bid, Olympic frenzy drove house prices up to an obscene level. It is only recently, in early 2008, that real estate values started to spiral down, but as you now know, as the value of your property drops, your taxes still rise, and will continue to rise for decades in an effort to pay for the 2010 Games. That’s how it works in ALL Olympic regions.
Just wait until about mid 2009 when all those condos and Olympics related projects are built and construction workers have nothing left to do. Plus, and this is a big plus, when all those condos are built, the people who bought them will want to sell their homes and move in. When this happens house prices take a big dive again as all these new homes are dumped almost overnight into the market.
Shortly thereafter construction workers won't be able to find work so they leave town for greener pastures and house prices slip another notch below the radar when they vacate their living spaces. It happens like this in all Olympic regions in the free world, and Vancouver politicians have done absolutely nothing to prevent it from occurring here too. In fact in mid 2008 it's already well on its way to playing out in the same way it occurred in Salt Lake City, Athens, and Turin.
Local newspapers worked hard to convince us an obscene rise in property values is a good thing, and they worked even harder to keep you from connecting the dots and learning that all this craziness is attributed directly to Olympic frenzy. How many times over the last few years did you read headlines in The Vancouver Sun that jubilantly blared messages like, “Home Owners Now Paper Millionaires!”
News media also conveniently failed to mention they are making a fortune off of the back of our community by selling ads to developers and real estate companies.
The painful reality is that all Olympic sponsors and affiliates make a killing, and taxpayers disproportionately foot the bill. For example, NBC, the official Olympic television broadcaster boasts they sell advertising to 4 billion people at each Summer Games, and to another 3 billion at each Winter event. They generate incredible revenue and profit while you pay for it.
In the past, the cycle was hard to recognize and understand because it was expensive to communicate with people in other Olympic regions. People mistakenly trusted local mainstream news media to keep us informed, but as you can now see, they have no incentive to tell you both sides of the story, and they don’t - at least not it in a timely manner.
Thankfully we now have Facebook, YouTube and countless blogs to help us connect the dots.
Considering that Olympic sponsors are making a killing off the back of our community, it’s time they stepped up and started to invest in the relationship more equitably.
It’s now obvious official Olympic sponsors only contributed as little as they had to in order to ensure their place at the table. From their perspective it makes perfect business sense, but today, Vancouver residents and taxpayers no longer have to be held hostage.
VANOC pats itself on the back every time they confirm another official sponsor contract, but obviously, in this era, the sponsorship money they collect is not enough. It’s time for VANOC to rethink their business model. They have no choice but to start working harder and quit expecting taxpayers to make up the difference. Why? Well, Canadians, and Vancouverites especially, no longer have to cooperate, or more accurately be forced to cooperate like they have in past Olympics regions.
We now have options.
Everyone now knows the mentally ill and disadvantaged people in Vancouver are being pushed out of their homes as a direct result of Olympic frenzy and gentrification. Only a fool would argue otherwise. Everyone also knows that since winning the Bid, average people in Vancouver recently paid way more for their homes than what they are now worth, and everyone knows that a 40 year mortgage is not sustainable in times of economic crisis. Vancouver real estate is without doubt teetering on the brink of economic disaster.
There is something morally and ethically wrong in the boardrooms of official Olympic sponsors if they can so easily look the other way while human rights issues unfold within their purview.
Vancouverites were pushed to the wall by artificially inflated 2010 frenzy and are now praying that global issues won’t shove them over the economic edge. It was less than a year ago when local newspapers irresponsibly promoted that house prices could only go up, but now in mid 2008 it is common to see “Price Reduced” signs all over the city. Houses now sit on the market for months.
When an Olympic athlete wins a gold medal and multinational companies pay them millions in endorsement fees while Vancouverites are being pushed from their homes, it is a strong indication the Olympic business model is in dire need of major change.
It’s time for official Olympic sponsors
and athletes to quit looking the other way.
It’s time for each of them to step up
shoulder a more equitable and fair responsibility.
RBC shamelessly boasts how they fund Olympic athletes. Well if athletes are doing so well now thanks to RBC, how can athletes in good conscience ignore what is happening in the Downtown Eastside – the poorest postal code in Canada, and what is also known as the most dangerous ghetto in Canada? How can athletes go to Beijing and compete without speaking out? Are you simply going to continue to look the other way? If Coca Cola or GM pay you to advertise their product from the gold medal podium, do you really expect us to buy into the endorsement too?
John Furlong, CEO VAONOC needs to go back to sponsors like HBC, Visa, NBC, RBC GM, Petro Canada, The Vancouver Sun, The Globe and Mail and all the rest and say, OK boys, we’ve grossly miscalculated how much 2010 is going to cost our region and we are going to need mega millions, if not a billion more to make this work. Here’s the hat. Fill it.
If Bell Canada could initially invest $200 million and boast about it, then it is not out of the realm of possibility to pony up another $50 million. And the same goes for all the other official Olympic sponsors who emblazon their companies with the five rings. Bell employees are going to be coerced into volunteering using "career pressure" whether they like it or not. How will they feel about Olympics related human rights issues, or will they simply look the other way too?
If you want to play, you have to pay - or this Host region won’t cooperate.
Residents of an Olympic region should not have to shoulder the bill because civic leaders, politicians, and VANOC miscalculated and misrepresented how much it would cost overall to manage the 2010 Games. Furlong maintains Olympic facilities are on time and budget even though for years BC’s auditor general argues differently. Obviously someone is lying. Furlong conveniently ignores the cost of building infrastructure like highways, transit lines, and even the new convention center, which will be used as a media headquarters for 2010. In his disconnected IOC mind those huge costs are the responsibility of taxpayers.
It’s not as if the key players didn’t have all the information they needed before they got us into this mess. Civic leaders knew exactly what was going to befall us. They knew because years ago we sent them all a free copy of our book, Leverage Olympic Momentum. Everyone in the upper echelon knew exactly how this was going to play out, but instead they chose to look the other way. They all had access to good information gleaned from past Olympic regions, but they chose to ignore it, much in the same way China looks the other way respective of human rights issues in Tibet, not to mention that Beijing forcibly displaced an estimated 1.5 million people to make way for Olympic facilities and infrastructure. Residents under a communist regime have no choice, but you do.
It’s time to cough up more dough boys.
Here’s the kicker, if the Olympic sponsors raking in these big profits don’t come up with more funds to cover expenses, residents of Vancouver now have all the power in the world to warn Olympic spectators planning to come here of the situation in our region. The only question now is whether or not Vancouverites will be smart enough to figure it out before it is too late to matter.
How do you think spectators will feel supporting an UN-ethical Olympics?
Even if spectators ignore ethics, will they feel safe knowing that a large and growing portion of the community doesn’t want them here? Our tourism board will soon have their hands full counterbalancing all the negative publicity it will generate, which means anyone involved in tourism in this province had better also quit looking the other way.
I’m also curious how Olympic organizations and the tourism board are going to convince Olympic spectators that they will be safe when VANOC is only planning to invest $175 million in security. Olympic spectators aren’t stupid. They’re already skittish over the BC Place roof collapsing, and now Olympic organizations that they can keep our community safe when the last two Olympic events spent in the neighborhood of a billion dollars each. Give me a break. It’s obvious Canada will spend more than $175 million, and also that Olympic organizations are scared if they tell us how much it will really cost residents will prematurely revolt. VANOC and our governments will simply spend the money and not ask permission or tip their hand that taxes will lurch up even higher to pay for it. Vancouverites will go ballistic, but it will be too late.
The challenge to instill confidence and calm becomes even more complex when you consider Vancouverites have a Wild West reputation for treating outsiders with contempt. Americans and Torontonians especially learned years ago not to let on where they come from when waiting in line at a restaurant. It’s a running joke for Torontonians, but a sensitive issue for Americans and one that has grown even more contentious since the Iraq war. Vancouverites don’t take kindly to anyone we disagree with on a moral or political bases, and we’re not scared to voice our opinion, which means when frustrated locals figure out they can reach out around the world online respective of 2010 issues I doubt very much they are going to hold back. They’ll strip VANOC to the bone faster than a school of piranha on a cow.
The reality is that taxpayers in Olympic regions can no longer be held hostage, and we don’t have to cooperate if it isn’t in our economic interest to do so.
We all have access to blogs and Facebook and YouTube, and we can all email our friends, relatives and colleagues around the world and apprise them of our situation. My friend Tim in Seattle refers to the phenomenon as FaceTube. We can also warn other cities and regions that if they allow the Olympics in, they will also suffer similar economic challenges. Local residents in Host regions can speak to Olympic spectators directly and there is nothing the IOC or VANOC can do about it.
The solution in fact is quite simple.
Email, blog, and Facebook everyone you know or who has a vested interest, and simply tell them the truth about what is occurring in our region. Don’t come across as angry, rude, or nasty and don’t blow anything out of proportion. Just tell everyone the truth.
Don’t forget to also contact celebrities, especially celebrities who promote the Olympics, because they too are leveraging an affiliation with the Olympics to boost their careers, and they’re doing it at your expense. Let Avril know what you think, but be nice because she probably doesn’t have a clue about the destructive side of the Olympics.
Email people like Oprah Winfrey and ask her to spread the word too. Who knows, you might end up on television.
If you Twitter, Tweet away.
Today, everyone has a website and an email link. Send your message to the executives of all the Olympic sponsor companies, and send an email to the Customer Service agents at all these companies. Tell them Vancouver is getting beaten up and unless they come up with substantially more money we can’t continue to cooperate and host their party.
Email your MP and Ottawa. Email athletes who have websites. Email VANOC and the IOC. They all have email addresses and they are all very easy to find through Google.
The solution is simple.
You can either meekly cooperate and pay for 2010,
or you can stand up for yourself and your community.
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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
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
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
Priorities changed over the years and so too should their Creed &
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