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
With Us or Against Us - Oh Please Stop Already
George W Bush used the "You are either with us or against us" admonishment to wage war against an enigmatic enemy.
And Olympic organizations also use it to whip people
into line who live in Olympic Host communities.
Psychologically, it’s an effective tool to manipulate emotions, but it’s not an accurate or even ethical statement because it dismisses completely the possibility that there could be another side to the story.
The Vancouver Sun, and especially their pro-Olympic writer-booster Jeff Lee want you to believe there is only one side to the Olympic story. Lee also seems to believe you are either with the Olympics, or against the Olympics, and after many years of me explaining to him there is another perspective; he still chooses to see it in only black and white.
I would have thought by now he would have at least wanted to make an effort to learn more about a “common ground” solution, but he is myopic on selling the Olympics in a fashion that leads people to believe if they speak out against IOC culture, they are unpatriotic, anti-Canadian, and anti-sport. Lee is wrong on all counts.
“With us or against us,” is a compliance strategy Olympic organizations promoted and perpetuated tirelessly and shamelessly for decades. In fact Bush probably stole the idea from the IOC.
The IOC and The Vancouver Sun, according to Lee, want us to believe Host communities should just shut up and unconditionally follow the dictates of Olympic organizations.
“With us or against us” is a twist on the “Good Old Boys Club” that keeps people intimidated and helpless. It’s like trying to hide that your rich and weird uncle is molesting the kids, but instead of confronting the wealthy offender, Lee and The Sun think we should look the other way.
Looking the other way is the wrong thing to do, especially when this message comes from an organization as large and powerful as CanWest Global, The Sun’s parent company, and a news media publisher that is well paid by the IOC to tell the Olympic side of the Olympic story.
Jeff Lee, his employer The Vancouver Sun, and their parent, CanWest Global are biased by virtue of being official paid Olympic boosters, but it goes even deeper. They are also biased against people like me who promote there is a viable solution to all the chaos and expense the Olympics inflict on a Host region.
Unfortunately, they don’t want you to even consider a solution because it would negatively impact the profit they make off the back of our Olympics Host community, and they will go to great lengths to keep critical information from you.
On Saturday, August 2, 2008, The Vancouver Sun published a review/diatribe written by Jeff Lee in the BOOKS section about a new book written by Chris Shaw, entitled “Five Ring Circus."
The deception began in the headline and
continued through into the first paragraph.
Worse, is that Lee's employer . . . The Vancouver Sun / CanWest Global, sanctioned it.
I haven’t read Shaw’s book yet, but I know from his reputation and from briefly dealing with him he is unabashedly “anti-Olympic.” In fact I have written about Shaw a few times in this blog, plus I also mentioned him briefly in my book, Leverage Olympic Momentum, which was published in 2006, and predicted he would be a person of interest to watch as the 2010 Games drew near.
I agree in principal with some of what Shaw says and writes, but I do not agree with his solution. I’m not even sure if he offers a solution in his book other than to create so much havoc the Games will be even more chaotic and expensive than what most locals imagined.
The last time I wrote about Shaw I cautioned he promotes an anti-Olympic style of protest that historically grows to be very violent, and I have always maintained that traditional protest is not the way to solve Olympic issues in a Host region. The biggest reason is because civil disobedience and street protest in an Olympic forum never works, and it is actually counterproductive and expensive for taxpayers.
If it actually worked, why does Host region after Host region still feel compelled to protest? Don't you think eventually one of those protests would have put an end to the charade by now?
You might argue Olympic protest doesn't work because it isn't founded on a legitimate base, but that's not true as you can see from the corruption of the IOC uncovered in Salt Lake City in 2002, and yet again in Beijing in 2008 regarding media censorship. The IOC it seems is as secretive and maybe even as corrupt as ever.
I'm not arguing protest isn't warranted. I'm saying it has to be managed in a manner that is effective and reflects today's modern communication landscape. It also has to be managed in a manner that DOES NOT negatively impact the Host region, at least not to the level where it has devastating economic impact. Look for example what Olympic protest has done to China's reputation, and STILL the IOC trundles on as corrupt as before. The IOC literally thumbs their nose at the Host country, but China, like many Hosts, is too embarrassed to admit they've been duped. Does this make sense?
It's bad enough taxpayers have to absorb the cost, but do protesters have to make matters worse in their own backyard.?
Violent protest is out, and if green is the new black, then spreading the truth is the new face of protest. Make sure people know the truth and let them decide. Local news media, which has a vested interest in the perceived success of the Games in their respective regions, doesn't see it that way. They unfortunately, have a short-sighted view influenced much too heavily by dollar signs.
The 2010 Olympics is coming whether you like it or not.
Spitting in the town well does nothing but
poison drinking water for the entire community.
If you want to spit, target your enemies, not your friends and neighbors.
The “enemies,” or maybe more appropriately, the “competition,” are the corporations reaping huge Olympic profits off the back of our community. At the TOP of this list are Olympic sponsors like Visa, Coca-Cola and GM. The lynchpin however is mainstream news media, and especially local newspapers because they are paid directly by the IOC to tell the Olympic story. And any time such vast sums of money are involved there is legitimate cause for concern.
NBC television for example boasts of selling advertising to 4 billion viewers at each Summer Games, and about 3 billion at each winter event. Since Vancouver won the 2010 Bid, The Sun has been selling full colour double spread ads to Olympic frenzied local developers and real estate companies as fast as they can refill the ink barrels. These companies all make a fortune by encouraging Olympic hype, which artificially drives up property values and as a consequence taxes. It’s a prefect closed loop system with small businesses and citizens caught like monkeys in the middle. Someone has to pay for the Games, and increased taxes are a common method to raise funds.
It is possible book writer and protester Chris Shaw does implicate The Sun directly in the charade, but if he is really genuine in his concern for our community he has to explain in detail exactly how and why local newspapers are the paid mouthpiece for the IOC. It is possible of course he did, but Lee refused to report Shaw’s local news media perspective. Wouldn’t that be a kicker? I’ll have to keep an eye on Shaw’s website to see how he feels about being slammed again by The Sun. It’s not the first time Lee made him look like a radical whiner.
It usually pays to take the high road.
Even though they were not yet official Olympic partner/suppliers, I knew way back in 2004 that as soon as I criticized The Sun they would pan me, but it’s a strategic and an ethical decision that had to be made out of the gate in order to effectively expose how Olympic organizations are able to move into a community and negatively impact it economically time after time. I wasn't about to whitewash local media's involvement just so they would give me space in their rag. It would be totally disingenuous and unethical to say the least.
Dr. Helen Lenskyj, a Canadian university professor from Australia, and a well respected expert in both the field of sociology and how the Olympics impact a Host region, is a person Lee also considers little more than a whiner. Dr. Lenskyj feels local media’s role in the Olympics is so pervasive she devoted the entire first chapter in one of her books, “The Best Olympics Ever?” to explain how newspapers manipulate citizens into unconditionally supporting the Games. She offers scads of well-documented evidence to prove her case.
The difference between me, Shaw and Lenskyj, is I have almost two decades of experience promoting and managing large-scale public events for millions of people around the world, and have actually managed a Canadian Olympic project at Calgary ’88. More importantly, I know the event game from the inside out, while they are researchers and observers. I know exactly what makes an event promoter like the IOC tick, and where to find their Achilles tendon.
After watching what just transpired in Beijing, you now know it too.
Basically, it is reputation.
The Olympics depends on reputation. Once it goes, so goes support from the masses, and you need the masses to act as volunteers and to show up as spectators. Empty stands send a strong message to the world that locals don’t like what they see.
Pay careful attention as you watch the Beijing 2008 Ceremonies and sports competitions to see how many Westerners you see in the audience. For the most part, Chinese people (like many Vancouverites too), cannot afford to buy Olympic tickets at any price, which means in Beijing you should see a sea of Western faces in the crowd placed there by wealthy corporations who are Olympic sponsors and give away hundreds of thousands of tickets. The challenge is many of these people never show up. Consequently, China is “papering the house,” which means giving away tens of thousands of tickets to locals so as not to lose face by broadcasting empty facilities.
China actually used "Olympic Cheerleaders" to create excitement in the half-empty stands. Apparently the Olympics isn't the draw the IOC leads us to believe, because this happens in all Olympic regions, even though local news media in Vancouver makes it seem like it is something new. It's not. It happens like this in all Olympic regions, but it wouldn't be good business if The Vancouver Sun told you this up front. Keep in mind too this is not all they are hiding. Timing is everything.
Beijing gave free tickets to local citizens, dressed them in yellow T-shirts, gave them air clappers and placed them strategically in half empty sport facilities to make noise. Most of these shills had no idea what sports they came to watch or who was competing. China also blew it when they had a seven year old lip-synch the national anthem during opening ceremonies. According to Chinese officials, the child who sang the song didn't look cute enough, so they had one child sing while they secretly placed another onstage to mouth the words for television viewers worldwide.
Tactics like this happen at many Olympic Games, and if local news media in Vancouver would have read my book, they would have known that what occurred in China was not an isolated incident, although the half-pint Milli Vanilli thing was a new twist on the deception.
One of my criticisms is that John Furlong, CEO VANOC, should have been talking about this exact spectator challenge years ago, but instead he remained secretive and bought media silence. Everyone knows when you acknowledge a problem, get it out in the the open and talk about it, it is highly likely you will find a solution. Unfortunately, this is not how the IOC operates. They instead remain protectionist and secretive at the expense of the Host community.
It’s not my objective at all to have reporters make me a target, but if I ignore the critical role local mainstream news media play it would undermine my credibility. I want to make changes, and not just jabber about it. The IOC loves it when you jabber, because when you’re talking, time is passing, and before you know it the Games have come and gone. Complaining is one thing, developing a solution puts you into a completely different league.
The last three Olympic Host regions suffered huge deficits. For example, and regardless of what Lee leads Sun readers to believe, Salt Lake City in 2002, according to the CBC, wracked up a $1.2 billion deficit, Athens in 2004 incurred a $12 billion deficit, and Turin in 2006 actually threatened to claim bankruptcy only two months before their big event unless Italian taxpayers, who were held hostage, bailed them out at the eleventh hour.
Get ready Vancouver, because your turn is next.
None of these countries experienced anywhere near the return on investment they needed and expected respective of increased tourism or foreign capital investment. If local media tell you different, they are lying. And China, well China invested what is estimated to be $35-40 billion to primarily fool their citizens, and also less importantly to sway the world into thinking they are an ethical humane society. Thanks to Beijing 2008, much of the Western world now knows for sure what they suspected, that Chinese leaders cannot be trusted to keep their word, and that high-ranking IOC executives colluded with the CCP in an effort to deceive us.
It is possible Chinese citizens will eventually become sufficiently embarrassed to make something constructive of this debacle, but only time will tell. And not to sound naive, but it could also become a turning point for the CCP, because it definitely is another kick in the ass for the IOC. Both were busted on a world stage in one fell swoop. Incidents like this can cause serious social unrest and instigate riots the like of which we've recently seen regarding Tibet. It is hard to believe through my Western eyes that average Chinese citizens, even though they are oppressed, will let this go without a fight. The CCP and the IOC made them look foolish, and losing face to the Chinese is a big deal, much more so than in America.
China and the IOC expected the world to
their eyes and look the other way.
Fat chance. Maybe 08 08 08 08 isn’t so lucky after all.
For all I know Chris Shaw’s new book might champion a new strategy and solution, one that doesn’t attract violent global protestors, but if it does, I never got this out of the Lee’s review. All Lee did was paint Shaw as little more than conspiratorial whiner. It’s too bad, because Shaw is anything but, and so much more. If anything though, Lee looked like the whiner.
* Jeff Lee / Vancouver Sun is “look the other way”
* Chris Shaw is anti-Olympics at all costs even
if it attracts violent global protestors.
* I sit in the middle with a cost-effective solution good for our community, and in the long term, good for Olympic athletes, and yes, even good for the IOC.
Unfortunately, unless you read this blog or my book, you will never hear about my solution in local mainstream news media, and especially The Vancouver Sun.
Well, as I mentioned above, my solution “implicates” local mainstream news media in the charade – The Vancouver Sun in particular, and mainly because they have the largest market share in the region. The Globe and Mail is also an official Olympics paid booster, but they have little impact in Vancouver due to their small circulation. Plus, they have over the last few years published important nonpartisan “other side of the Olympic gold medal” information in a timely manner.
Still wondering about Jeff Lee's sneaky deception?
Well here it is - in two parts no less
The headline of Lee’s Sun review was,
“WAY AHEAD OF THE PACK”
Regardless of what Lee thinks, Chris Shaw is not ahead of the pack, and I could be wrong, but I doubt Shaw characterizes himself in this manner.
Lee claiming Shaw is ahead of the pack does a gross injustice to people like David Eby (Pivot Legal), Am Johal (IOCC), and Wendy Pederson (Carnegie Community Action Project) - all three are genuine leaders of the pack in Vancouver respective of Olympic activism.
Claiming Shaw is ahead of the pack is a deceptive ploy Noam Chomsky describes as “necessary illusion,” wherein on the surface it looks like The Vancouver Sun is giving a voice to an opposing faction, but in realty The Sun is supporting someone who does not have a snowball’s chance in Hell of doing anything truly good for our community or even of stopping the 2010 Olympics. Giving Shaw space means they can turn around and say, “See, we’re nonpartisan. We really are equal opportunity reporters.”
If The Sun were really genuine regarding loyalty to our community they would address solutions in a timely manner, but they can’t, because it would rile the IOC and undermine their own profits.
I might be giving Lee too much intellectual credit, but I also suspect he describes Shaw this way in an effort to create rancor within a group of activists. Ironically, it probably escapes Lee that if they instead join together virtually in social media style and go global, they could quickly become a formidable adversary of the IOC and local news media.
Divide and conquer is a common IOC strategy, and it seems it is the route Lee took. Considering the IOC has direct access to libraries of legacy information from past events, it is plausible they could have encouraged and coached The Sun to use this method.
Shaw unfortunately, seems to be only leading people who are interested in disrupting our community. Granted, his form of protest used to be a viable tool, but today, there are much better solutions than street level civil disobedience. Each time the riot police show up at an Olympics protest it costs local taxpayers money. Big money. Plus, when the Olympics are tied to it, it sends a message to spectators around the world all is not well in the Kingdom of 2010. Look to Beijing 2008 for proof.
Virtual viral activism through communication tools like Facebook and YouTube is a much more far reaching and an effective tool. Once you’ve been FaceTubed it’s almost impossible to stop the momentum. Citizen journalism is growing rapidly and by 2010 it will have evolved into a communication tool with serious global impact. The U.S. presidential race has totally embraced this new form of communication, and when the common electorate sees how well it works they will jump on it in critical mass. Many politicos attribute a large part of Barrack Obama’s success to his brilliant use of online promotion. I've been writing about him for almost two years for an American business newsletter series distributed to U.S. senators and MBA students at Harvard Law School, and predicted his success when Canadians were still confusing him with Osama. Today he is bearing down hard on the presidency.
Once a month in Vancouver since August 2007, a group called Third Tuesday Vancouver meet downtown to discuss the merits and opportunities of social media communication and promotion. This forward thinking group, many of whom are IT gurus, marketing experts, writers, and intellectual bon vivants are shoot-from-the-hip guns-for-hire who would like nothing better than to channel their skills into a project that gives them global visibility. I’m surprised, and somewhat disappointed more community activists do not show up for the meetings, but eventually they will, and when they figure out the complex infrastructure they will tap overnight into brand new territory.
The opening paragraph of Lee’s review is also misleading. He writes;
“With a year and a half to go before the 2010 Winter Games, it may seem premature for someone to produce the first critical book about Vancouver’s Olympics.”
First book? . . . wow
Now Lee is not only ignoring, but also trying to bury my book.
Maybe he doesn’t want you to see
what I wrote about him.
Since 2005, Lee and I have had heated arguments by phone and email regarding how he reports the 2010 Olympics. In case you haven’t read my book or you are not a regular reader of this blog, I describe in detail (using case studies of articles published in The Sun), that Lee reports a biased IOC skewed version of the Olympic story, and often fails to tell the other side, the information that readers in our community need to know in a timely manner in order to make good decisions regarding 2010.
My book is especially valuable for anyone interested in becoming a 2010 Olympics Volunteer, and for companies considering becoming suppliers. If you jump into the deep end of the 2010 pool you are going to drown unless you know how to swim with the sharks. Some of my clients hold multimillion dollar Olympic contracts, which means I have first hand knowledge of their frustrations. Unfortunately, I can't tell you who they are or anything about their specific Olympic challenges, because according to the VANOC/IOC contracts they signed, if I told you, they would have to either kill me, or I'd have to kill you. Someone would die, and as you can see, I'm a bit of a pacifist, so you're safe.
I occasionally write about Lee in my blog, and wrote about him in my book, Leverage Olympic Momentum, which was published and distributed to select politicians and media over two years ago in 2006. Every mayor in the region received a copy, and anyone can buy it online or at Duthie Books on 4th in Vancouver / Kitsilano.
Several months ago Lee told me he would never allow me to post comments on his Sun blog because he refuses to allow me to use his space to sell my book and promote my perspective. Interestingly though, Lee provides a platform in the Sun for Chris Shaw, who is a self proclaimed promoter of civil disobedience, and who aligns himself with a history that amounts to little more than violent protest.
It’s important to keep in mind violent Olympic protest on our city streets sells headlines and newspapers, while my solution is more effective, less dramatic, and reduces CanWest’s profits.
For Lee to claim Shaw’s book is the first critical book regarding the 2010 Olympics is false and misleading. It’s a lie. Lee knows it, Sun publishers know it, and my PayPal account knows it. It also hurts my reputation and economic position.
There is not even a remote chance it is an oversight missed by Sun fact checkers. Lee and I have exchanged a few very heated words on the phone and in email messages over the last few years for him to have forgotten about my book, and I’ve also fired a few warning shots across Sun editor Kirk Lapointe’s bow in the recent past. CanWest has interviewed me three times, but each time they failed to run the reports. Interestingly though, Wired, The Globe and Mail, BC Business magazine, CityTV, Business Edge, The Epoc Times and radio talk shows across Canada value my opinion respective of subjects like the Olympics, social media and citizen journalism.
I can only speculate, but Jeff Lee and The Vancouver Sun must be incredibly fearful of what I write in my blog and book for them to mislead readers in such an open way. Action like this undermines everything journalists represent, or more accurately purport to represent. And it is also indicative of blind journalistic loyalty that not one mainstream reporter has stepped forward to correct Lee.
To add insult to injury, Lee uses the “with us or against us” reference in the book review and portrays it as an analogy Shaw developed.
Here’s what I published about “with us or against us” in my book in 2006;
“George W. Bush used a manufactured threat to galvanize America and pump patriotism up to fighting speed. Olympic organizations do the same thing when they want a country to come onside. They create a sense of threat, real or imagined, of failure that makes people want to stick together. It is another reason why Olympic organizations need media on their side. It is the only way they have of instilling fear in the gullible masses. Don’t fall for it. (tw90)
The George W. Bush threat of, “you are with us or you are against us” works every time. Opposing factions of media will pull the public all over the place with increased intensity as the Games approach.” end of excerpt
If Lee, who characterizes himself as an Olympic expert for The Sun, knew half as much about the Olympics as he claims to know, he would have known it is a popular analogy I drew years ago.
In the second line of Shaw’s book review and in reference to Shaw writing a book pre-Olympics, Lee writes, “It’s like judging the pancakes before they’ve been made or a bed before it’s been slept in.”
Sorry Jeff, but I don’t need to stick my hand in boiling water to know it’s hot. Your reasoning is misleading, and your effort to convince Vancouver Sun newspaper readers to ignore history is journalistically irresponsible.
Anyone who does even modest Olympic research knows how 2010 will pan out. Olympic formula, which my solution endeavors to change, is unfortunately carved in rock as hard as Inukshuk stone.
So far, almost every major prediction I made in my book regarding 2010, including homelessness, accommodations, security, the BC Place dome, schools, volunteers, etc., have been right on the money. The only one I missed was that Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan would be a stand up kind of guy and do our Host region proud regarding 2010. Turns out he was more interested in grand-standing.
In 2005, two years before it happened, I even predicted The Vancouver Sun, your employer, would eventually become an Olympic booster paid handsomely by the IOC.
It’s called research, analysis, and foresight.
You obviously ignore history . . .
and those that ignore it, are doomed to repeat it.
Looking the other way harms our community.
It is journalists like you who championed Bush’s war. Thanks.
1st printing no longer available at CHAPTERS locations in Vancouver
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