The IOC admits to Bullying?

Written by Brian Revel on December 28th, 2009

The IOC kicks London around

A symbol of the IOC

Recently on television in Vancouver, the host city of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, we have seen a superb animation ad of five super-giant athletes pulling on ropes, pulling the continents together. When they’ve finished, they do a “Hi-Five” over Egypt.

View it here: IOC – All Together Now

The Olympic Spirit Unites the world, implies the ad, sponsored by the IOC. Their goal is laudable enough. Yet one cannot help but notice a serious symbolic sub-text in the advertisement that also rings true. There is no other way to put it: The IOC is a bully.

You see, as the giant-athletes pick up the ropes they are about to pull on, they stomp heavily and without regard to where they are stepping. One blocks traffic, almost killing a driver. Another smashes her foot into a little village called “London” and, in bracing her foot on Big Ben, she  pushes the Houses of Parliament and nearby businesses aside, nearly crushing a double-decker bus.

There’s even a hockey player bracing himself against the rooftops of Yaletown after he’s crashed his way down our streets in the same way Godzilla would- much to the consternation of a local businessman and residents depicted in the video.

The herculean efforts of the IOC’s giant-athletes wantonly displace ordinary citizens, ordinary people, going about their everyday lives. And these giants are so big their actions can only go unopposed; they act with impunity, just as the IOC seems to do in real life.

The IOC, symbolically  represented by these giant athletes is telling us all, “We are bigger than any piddly town. We are more powerful than any stupid country. Our lofty goal of bringing the world together outranks any local interest, anywhere, and no matter the cause. Local communities are nothing to us and we don’t give a damn about what you think or how you feel.”

How could they have missed such a symbolic message, these high-powered international snobs, if they didn’t mean it? Marie Antoinette could not have said it better: “Let them eat Cake!” Given the events here in Vancouver over recent months involving the IOC and VANOC, the Vancouver Organizing Committee, it’s hard to miss this sub-text.

Here are four examples: a local business here in Vancouver, the Olympia Restaurant on Denman Street, was a fervent supporter of the Olympics coming to town. As a business, they have been around for decades and there had been no objection to the business being named “Olympia”. Suddenly, since Vancouver won the “Olympic” franchise in 2003, Olympia Pizza has been fighting a David and Goliath battle to keep their name and stay in business. They’ve held out so far- but at what expense?

Want to learn more about their plight? Check out

Then there was the Paramedic strike. Ambulance workers across British Columbia struck in March of this year. Their issues centered around staffing. In November the British Columbia government introduced legislation to end the strike and it turns out that VANOC and the IOC were behind the government’s initiative… using thinly veiled threats. As repugnant as the legislation was, it appears that the provincial government’s hands were tied.

A third example is the refusal to consider women ski jumping the 2010 Winter Olympics. The jumpers took the IOC and VANOC to court. And while the court found that keeping women out of the competition was discriminatory in Canada there was nothing the court could do because VANOC was merely an organizing committee and the IOC was based outside of this country. It was therefore not subject to Canadian law.

By the way, if you would like to support these world-class ski-jumping athletes to participate in the Winter Olympics, go to their site, and sign their online petition.

My final example although there are many, many more, is that of free speech. One might recall Suharto, when he came to Vancouver and the now infamous APEC summit, the Indonesian despot didn’t want his sightseeing to be marred by demonstrations so for his convenience, protestors were muzzled and tear-gassed.

And so it is with the Olympics. In Canada, with free speech enshrined in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, signs posted in private residential windows protesting the games could be cause enough for the police to force their way in and remove the offending posters. And we are going to have Beijing-style “free speech zones” safely isolated from the Olympic action.

The goal of bringing the world closer together is a good one. Indeed, a significant majority affirmed the Olympic ideal when they endorsed Vancouver’s bid in a referendum.

But trampling on local communities along the way is not so good. And our experience here in Vancouver reinforces the fact that the IOC simply doesn’t care about the communities it is directly affecting. If a referendum were held today, Vancouverites would reject the games two to one.

This ad precisely demonstrates the IOC’s calloused treatment of its host cities. All in a pretty- and slick- one minute animated announcement. Watch out London- you’re next.

So thanks, IOC, for confirming what Vancouverites, many of them supporters, current and former, of the upcoming winter games, have come to believe. That the IOC is a corrupt, money-hungry boys-club, answerable and responsible to no one; that it is the ultimate aristocracy- one that deserves to be knocked down a peg or two.

Oh- and someone has knocked them down a peg. Check out Lululemon’s fab new line of sports-like wear called, and introduced to coincide with, “a Major Sporting Event Taking Place in British Columbia between 2009 and 2011”. Their jab the eye of the IOC and VANOC sums up many peoples’ sentiment exactly.

I, for one, will be buying my mitts from The Bay, the official supplier of Olympic clothing, but I’ll get my touque from Lululemon- the unofficial Aristocrat shin-kicker of the people.


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