From the editor
// Kevin Murray

Welcome to the Cap Courier’s 2010 Olympics edition. There is much to be learned in these hallowed pages, even if you have become tired of the talk and believe we are making tankers out of toy boats.

Over the past few weeks, the coverage has reached a keening pitch. Every level of society has rallied around the prevailing issues, screaming about the environment, the homeless, and the corporation... pipe-bombs, profits, police, oh my! Many of us have become numb to these messages, and the last few conversations I have had about it were tainted with tattoos of resignation. “It’s happening, might as well enjoy it.” People are tired of the debate, overwhelmed with the issues.

These issues, however, are of paramount importance for our society, nay, our species, and we must pay attention to the them, for they are deeply symbolic, representing a microcosm of our global conundrum. By ignoring the naysayers, we fail to acknowledge their concerns, thereby ignoring our own formative destinies.

The First Nations opposition is erupting from the still-fresh scars of colonization, and the fact that BC has few treaties in place. In fact, Vancouver is still officially Coast Salish territory, and the underlying message is that our modern brand of corporatist democracy is not the only way.

The problems in the Downtown Eastside are also brought to bear. Around half the population of Canada’s poorest postal code are immigrants from Asia or Latin America, a fact that shines irony on our cultural mosaic. Once more, laws are in place that could relocate these unfortunate individuals in the style of Atlanta or Beijing.

The promised social housing in the Olympic Village has been reduced to 20% from 1/3 of the original allocation, while Security expenditures are approaching $1 billion dollars -- not to mention the $177 million dollar speed-skating rink in Richmond (a pretty dear danish for a snowless city in a rainforest, if you ask me). If these few figures alone don’t show where our cultural priorities lie, take a breath, and think again.

Then there’s the environment. The Suzuki foundation estimates that 328,000 tonnes of carbon are the cost of the carnival, equivalent to about 66,000 exhaust pipes. These figures are sitting especially well with the colossal failure of the recent Copenhagen summit, which Harper reluctantly attended, avoiding his advocacy for a binding climate change strategy.

Finally, there are the Charter right compromises. Free speech zones, 900 security cameras, and activist interrogations that attack Section 7 of the Charter, which guarantees speech, privacy and the “psychological integrity” of citizens. It must be mentioned that these voices are primarily trying to help and protect, however misguided their agendas may be.

On the other hand, there is the legacy of excellence in sports that must be mentioned. It would be foolish and irresponsible to disregard the hopes and dreams of athletes and the spirit of conscious evolution they embody. Even the timeline, stretching 2768 years, shows us a perfect reason to celebrate this phenomenal human race.

We cannot simply look back on the games with perfect pride, however, as their history casts a long, black shadow.

The Olympics began in 776 BCE and were centered around one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, the Temple of Zeus. The formation myth, as recorded on the statues of the eastern end of the complex, points to a much darker legacy than we normally imagine.

Pelops, a prince, sought the hand of Hippodamia, a princess. Her father challenged her suitors to compete for her hand in a chariot race. The loser would be beheaded, and so Pelops secretly replaced his competitors chariot linchpins with wax. Victory was ensured. The Olympics became a celebratory ritual for the marriage.

This historyvictory at any costresonates with current times. One may recall the 1968 games and the expulsion of the two black runners for their solidarity salute on the winner's podium. The offical party line is that the Olympics are apolitical, but this idea does not hold up in history. Nazi salutes were common in the 1936 games, and in 2008, the following lines were placed on the IOC website: "Over and above winning medals, the black American athletes made names for themselves by an act of racial protest." This appalling statement attempts to legitimize the expulsion, but fails to segregate politics from the podium.

The fact is that the Olympics would like us to believe they are apolitical; they are not. They simply conform to the questionable status quo of the times. The protest, however, attempts to draw our attention to the seedy underbelly of the whole affair, in an attempt to eclipse this culture of excellence by competition with one that resembles excellence by cooperation.

Ergo, your job is to pay attention. Never has there been a greater opportunity to learn and understand the underpinnings of our fair city. Take advantage of it, and if you find yourself overloaded, just take a breath, and open your mind and peer through the Olympic illusions.

Enjoy the games, enjoy the shows, but watch the security, be careful of your community, and consider the environmental impact and the fact that the most obvious beneficiary of the massive economic boom will be Coke and McDonald's. Like Dorothy, we are leaving our home in Vancouver for the emerald city, but it would be best to avoid the advice of the wizard... please do pay attention to the man behind the green curtain.

//Kevin Murray, editor-in-chief

Enjoy it? Share this on Facebook


© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: editor@capilanocourier.com