Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I saw the Torch today

I used to think that the Olympics are a part of human cultural heritage and that they're meant to be an expression of certain ideals. Starting with the 2008 Beijing Olympics I learned more about the business aspects of the Olympics. What I learned looked bad. I saw that the Olympics were being run like a corporation. Ideals, individuals or even athletes seemed to be less important than sponsors and branding. Basically, free speech and other freedoms are restricted to please the sponsors and control what people see. This is not acceptable, and it's especially disappointing to see this happening in Canada.

At first, I was planning to not see the Torch this year. What changed my mind was the thought that very many things are seriously messed up, and that I should focus more on recognizing the good parts and less on rejecting things because of bad parts.

At first I contemplated seeing the Torch at Point Pelee National Park, but I scheduled something else and I couldn't make it to Pt. Pelee on time. So I ended up seeing the 2008 Vancouver Torch in Kingsville, Ontario, and that turned out quite well. Plenty of people lined the streets in Kingsville, but it wasn't too crowded and everyone could get a close view of the Torch. Before and afterwards, the entertainment was children singing Christmas songs, which was quite nice.

This was the third Olympic Torch Relay I saw. The other two were the 1984 Sarajevo and 1988 Calgary Relays. It's interesting how they keep getting bigger. In late 1983, there was just the torchbearer and one or two cars, the 1988 Relay involved more vehicles, and finally in 2010 there was a whole mini-parade of vehicles for officials, sponsor displays and security. Maybe that's another illustration of how the Olympics have strayed from what is really important, or maybe not. I can't really complain about what I saw today.

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