Olympics Coverage: What do you want to see?

Summary: to add your ideas for Olympics coverage and read what others have written, post a comment below.

"In Canada, you will find a nation that works every day towards creating the conditions of the Olympic ideal." –Jean Chrétien

The "Olympic Ideal" is part of one of the world’s most successful marketing campaigns, built around concepts that almost everyone can agree upon: world-class amateur sport and peaceful competition.

But a rising chorus of critical voices say that the Olympics are deeply implicated in the expropriation of land, money and resources. From movements demanding "No Olympics on Stolen Native Land" to angry business owners, resistance to the Olympics economic and social agenda is growing.

The Olympics budget includes a billion dollars for security. A billion dollars each will be spent on a new convention centre, a larger highway to Whistler, and SNC Lavalin's rail link from the Vancouver airport to downtown.

In the political and economic maneuvres leading up to the 2010 Olympics, a different "ideal" has been revealed – one of exclusive contracts, sponsorship deals, displacement, social cleansing, and corruption. At times, sport seems like an afterthought.

Many of the real stories behind the Olympics remain to be told.

The Media Co-op and The Dominion want to know what kinds of critical coverage you want to see. Add your ideas as a researcher, a resident, or a reader, below!

The Vancouver Local of the Media Co-op is being launched this summer. By 2010, it will be a node for unembedded coverage of the Olympic Games. We encourage writers, researchers and journalists to create an account and share information and coverage about the 2010 Games.

The Dominion, the flagship publication of the Media Co-op, will publish a special issue about the Olympics in November 2009. The issue will draw upon your feedback and story ideas.

We want to hear from you! Join the Olympics working group, or email olympics [at] mediacoop.ca with your story suggestions and ideas.

If you want to support independent coverage of the 2010 Games, please consider becoming a sustaining member of the Media Co-op by visiting http://www.mediacoop.ca/join. May is Membership Month; join now to win prizes! For more information on our membership drive, visit http://www.mediacoop.ca/membershipmonth.

Stay tuned for more from the Vancouver Media Co-op and the Dominion.


Test cases

Follow two visitors through the Olympic security establishment
One your typical clean cut Suburban and one a slightly scruffy long hair not shaving should be enough...

Social issues up north

I heard that they have moved / are moving street people out of downtown Van by sending them to live in cheap accomodations in small communities up north. I haven't seen this mentioned in any media, either corporate or indy. How it is coming to light is because there is an upsurge of out-of-town drug users going through hospital emergency rooms in these small towns. I'm not suggesting that everyone they are dislocating is a drug abuser but certainly some are, and there are problems.

You can bet the cost of this secret agenda isn't in the boondoggle budget, and of course the resulting social issues to the communities because of increased drug problems won't be considered to be a cost of the olympics either. 

I would be most interested in someone investigating this further and bringing it out to the public.

Name That Issue!

Can we get some ideas for a name & tagline for the Dominion's special issue on the 2010 Games circulating? One place to start would be a brainstorm about the crux issues & concepts that we want the Dominion special issue, and the Media Co-op coverage, to relay.

Great discussions so far, by the way.

who gets to be in the olympics and who gets to watch

1. I like the excellent suggestion on "follow the money", in which case The Dominion can investigate who was on the Olympic Bid Committee that chose Vancouver (like what German company got the ferry-building contract, etc.). 2. I also like the idea of exploring the hidden costs of this extravaganza as someone here has mentioned. I know that the NDP originally thought of hosting the Olympics until they did a projected cost analysis. They figured it would cost $10 Billion, so they got out of the Olympic-promotion. Of course, the party animals that got in don't care about costs as long as the public pays and they enrich themselves by it. 3. Now here's the 3rd thing: Who actually get to be olympic athletes in Canada, and maybe around the world? Do they come from families of modest means, or, as I suspect, from the ranks of the fairly well-off or rich? Who actually gets to attend the performances? Regular folk, or as I suspect, only the well-heeled? 4. What extra stuff, besides the onerous security expenses, have we built or spent money on that only one class of people can use, or take advantage of--e.g. the Convention Centre? 5. What environmental destruction has occurred? 6. What poor people were displaced or denied help/treatment, just to pay for this sports extravaganza? 7. Who called the shots on where this event was actually held--like why Whistler--the most expensive town in BC? I think these things need to be written about, before we ever waste this much money again. I think the answers to these questions will show that we can't afford the rich. They don't do good things with their hoarded wealth, but try to get more of our collective commonwealth.

Follow the Money

I would like to see exactly who's making the most money off of the Olympics. Canwest? Jimmy Pattison? Real Estate Developers? Construction companies? Who 'backed the bid' and how much did they rake in for it?


Do some research on who was on the Bid Committee for the Games in Vancouver-Whistler---all big politicians and bigger businessmen. It was always a business deal. (Why do you think the new ferries were built in Germany?) Vancouverites got to vote on having this wasteful event, but the rest of the province will pay for it long into our grandchildren's lives. The entire costs will be hidden by the Campbell govvie group, as are the other secret aspects of his life and his personal secretary's salary and so forth, but I wager that it will be $10 Billion by the time it's all worked out, with the RAV, the public land give-aways, the new highway, and the security, the lack of working ferries {don't we just wish for the Fast Ferries back? At least they work!]and the Convention Centre...and the list of far over budget issues useless things goes on. The Olympics is just a big sports event for the rich, and mostly includes the rich even as contestants, as well as spectators. No one else can afford the tickets to watch or the training to be contestants, or even the ski tickets to ski once in awhile. We've been robbed of our resources, our assets and our jobs.

Environmental Destruction

South of Vancouver:
- Highway 99 expansion = wildlife destruction
- Callaghan Valley Nordic Centre = thousands of trees gone, wetlands impacted, and grizzly bear habitat encroached on.
- Whistler Athletes Village put into a potentially wildlife sensitive area - nobody knows how sensitive because no comprehensive studies of the flora and fauna in the area were done.
- Sliding Centre - where all the luge, bobslead, and skeleton take place = a sport that should be ousted out of the Olympics for its environmental impacts - think large C02 emitions at a time when the world is supposed to be trying to cut back on C02.
- Rare forested wetland in Whistler that could have used some work to make it healthier and protect it from further damage.....gone! For a bus terminal that we are told we needed anyway...but with the Olympics coming there wasn't time to find a more suitalbe location. Oh, and so far though Whistler is paying 53% of the cost to build the thing...the local council had no say in where it went and the provincial government is not telling us what the total bill will be.
- A small forest in the heart of the village that were the last stand of trees left in the main village area have also been completely chopped down.

The greeenest olympics ever? The bar is set so low that using this as a selling point is laughable....yes, many things have been done better than other games, and some other games have done things greener than us....but really the IOC has to get serious and make sure the Environment really is the third pillar of the Olympics and that they use some teeth to make this a reality. And they can start with some changes at the top:

1. Games held in one location per continent and not constantly shifted around having to duplicate everything.
2. Get rid of sliding sports
3. Make sure that what bid cities put in their bid books - is binding.
4. Create some standards that all games must follow such as no net habitat loss - so for every tree, wetland, or natural area disturbed...another would have to be protected...at least this would make them think twice about ripping out the trees in the first place perhaps.

My two cents from Whistler....

Other ways the Games are costing people in BC?

Charlie Smith over at the Georgia Straight recently quoted Vancouver City Councillor Andrea Reimer saying “It's about a third of our total staff of 10,000 that are in some way engaged in Olympics planning work.”

I'm assuming that those city staff hours are not being calculated in the already massive Olympic budget. So my question is, in how many other ways are the games costing the people of Vancouver, BC & Canada?

Olympic resistance

Look at previous, current and future (potential) Olympic resistance in Olympic bid and host cities.
Because of the way the Games are organized, community resistance to the Olympics is often ignored and forgotten about after the Games have been and gone, thus it is difficult to gain an understanding of the type of resistance there has been in the past and whether resistance is now increasing/decreasing or what types of strategies have helped/hindered the objectives of resistance groups.
I believe this is a very important topic to look into because of the potential there is now for more global resistance to the Games. So rather than inhabitants of each host city having to start from scratch and being ill-informed before they get the chance to critique and have their perspectives heard on whether or not the Games should come to town, keeping up dialogue about Olympic resistance whereever the Games are being held i believe will enable community members to make informed decisions and be well prepared when/if the Olympics should come their way.

Tour de Monde & torch relay ideas

I really like Fred's idea of a piece focusing on the social issues in the main competing countries. It has a lot of potential for graphic presentation too, like a world map with bubbles/boxes focusing on an issue linked to a country/place.

Another idea inspired by Fred's suggestion is to do something similar, but following the path of the olympic torch. This could also be more interesting as a multi-page graphic map, with a little dotted line & little torch runner following the path of the relay & along the way, graphics and/or text boxes and/or a comic strip, maybe focused on:
1) current social issues, as Fred's suggestion; or
2) historic/current resistance to the Olympics; or
3) indigenous resistance.

They could potentially both be included:
1. Fred's global map with graphics and/or comic strip frame and/or text boxes about the current social issues in main countries competing for medals.
2. map of the torch relay route (or even just a whole comic strip following the route - main character could be the Aboriginal Australian who intervened in the torch relay there years back or Coast Salish indigenous character?!) with graphics and/or comic strip frames and/or text focusing on either olympics resistance or indigenous resistance.

These could be really creative & fun collaborations between a bunch of researchers/writers/artists. Would love to contribute research/text for anything like this.

& just wanted to say that I understood in theory the MediaCoop idea, but it's really awesome to see it in practice. Especially for someone like me who rarely stops brainstorming & organizing long enough to sit down and actually write an article, much less on deadline. ;)

Tour du monde

I'd like to see some investigation into the most important social issues for the main countries in competition for medals. Beyond the standing, basically, what do social activists in each country have to tell the World about their own country (USA, Russia, China, etc). Some story related to the countries' current main social issue would make a great alternative Tour du monde.


the "corporate media"

I think it is important to point out the corporate media's failures. Too many people don't seem to understand just how miserable a job the corporate media is doing.

Infrastructure, post-Olympics

Received via email:

I would like to see a piece on the public infrastructure that has been developed in Vancouver and what the plan is for its continued sustainability. ie. these mass transit systems running to nowhere, who is going to fund them, what are they going to be used for? And while I'm on it, where is nowhere, exactly? I'm sure property values are spiking in those residential neighbourhoods now connected to the grid. There might be gold under that rock.

It's the same with the stadiums though. Who is going to heat them, how are they going to pay for that, and WHO IS GOING TO USE THEM?

It's a post-olympics story run pre-olympics. That's pretty much my input from afar. Of course, I'm always interested in Indigenous issues and resistance but I think it's more or less understood so I felt like I didn't need to really say much. I'm sure someone is on top of that.

Shaping the city

The Olympics have had a huge impact on the built environment of the city - from transforming hostels into condos to security cordons to erasing the industrial heritage of east False Creek. While the official tourism videos and broadcast TV show spectacular Vancouver and critical documentaries focus on the DTES, poverty and addiction, huge areas of the city are rendered absent, invisible. Where are the reserves, the suburbs, the public spaces? I'd like to see and hear about filmmakers who are attempting to open up different sorts of critical spaces, that restore some sense of the many voices and communities that live here. There have been attempts to communicate the economic-political story of the Olympic kleptocracy - but what about the everyday impacts across the city's neighbourhoods?

Received via email

What citizens could certainly use is a comprehensive, concise summary of the MONEY being spent directly on all olympic endeavours - ALL of it.

Then, add in the complementary, additive monies spent BECAUSE of the olympics. What hidden costs are involved as well . . . do we even really know.

People will not be feeling rich fairly soon, and to know exactly the FINANCIAL COSTS of this 2-wk event is crucial.

As well,

a sociological summary is necessary as well as the JUSTICE aspect of money spent and what it does to our peace and security . . .like, since when is BC such a security threat that we make all citizens into 'potential threats', including the increase of tazers and the training centres created . . . who teaches BC how to 'secure' BC . . . trainers, facilities, mandates, gov't involvement with other jurisdictions/countries, etc.

This is a far-reaching money and power grab - I'd love to do a map, a visual dot to dot connection of all these aspects and then the final tally - loss vs gain.

How long does it take to pay off the debt of winter olympics - and how much debt was there, compared to what we shall face.

Olympics & Poverty Elimination

Peace & good sportsmanship all great, but what about people - including children and mentally ill - who are starving and homeless.

What is the Olympics doing for them? Anything - or is it just chewing up money that could be used to help make poverty history?

What are our real priorities - or what should they be?

It is a beautiful, awe-inspiring spectacle from the opening ceremonies to end, and all the stories of struggle and determination in between. But it all seems so superfluous when we are reminded that people are still suffering - in Canada no less, never mind even the rest of the world - from a lack of food and a safe place to call home.

If the Olympics are supposed to inspire us to reach new heights as human beings - then surely we can apply the same lessons to jump farther and run faster, to make sure everyone is valued for just being human and given the same opportunities as anyone else.

Problem with activation

Hi there, I dont know if I am writing in a proper board but I have got a problem with activation, link i receive in email is not working... http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/?3683bb5ea72f8f7d7ecde7d1fa4,