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  • The View from Here: A Vancouverite Looks at the Games


    Vancouverite Bob Mackin has reported for Around the Rings since 2004.
    The 2010 Games have come and are almost gone.

    What was it like: better, worse or exactly what I expected?

    As a Vancouverite, I have to answer D, for all of the above.

    It has been nothing less than fascinating to watch the evolution of the Vancouver Games and the city itself from a twinkle in the eyes of local amateur sports and tourism officials in the mid-1990s. It was then carried forward by Arthur Griffiths to win the national nod. Then Jack Poole, John Furlong and their team carried the torch internationally.

    I wasn’t in Prague on July 2, 2003, but at General Motors Place (aka Canada Hockey Place) where it erupted in jubilation when IOC president Jacques Rogge broke a brief silence to announce Vancouver had won.

    The Bid Corporation became VANOC, the economy overheated and the first government construction bailout came. Near the end of the decade the economy cooled off. More government help for a Games that were supposed to be about sustainability.

    Poole, Furlong and Premier Gordon Campbell promised transparency, but they opted not to follow the example set by Salt Lake 2002 when Mitt Romney took over and pledged openness.

    VANOC is governed by an internal philosophy that says it doesn’t want to be seen to be losing. Corporate communications or traditional Canadian hockey mentality? Take your pick. It made it more difficult to report, but a good reporter enjoys the challenge.

    VANOC never did endear itself with the community after making lofty promises to guard the inner city of Vancouver from negative impacts of the Games.

    Not until night fell on the opening day of the Games did Vancouverites embrace the Games.

    They truly became Canada’s Games on Feb. 14 when Alexandre Bilodeau broke the domestic gold jinx that dated back to Montreal 1976.

    The costs of the Games were downplayed and the benefits inflated by politicians. Somewhere in between is the reality. Thanks to the challenging economy, the only gold the Games may leave here is hanging around the necks of Canadian athletes. But it sparked a renewed sense of national pride and has ended forever the notion that Vancouver is North America’s most notorious No Fun City.

    They’ll be known as the Bailout Games. But VANOC’s ability to overcome weather, transportation and tragedy also means these will be the Resilient Games.

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    Written by Vancouverite Bob Mackin .

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