Military twist to Beijing Games, Gordon Campbell questioned about Vancouver sheriff vehicle firebombing
Military twist to Games
By BOB MACKIN
24 Hours Vancouver
Thursday, August 14, 2008
BEIJING -- The Beijing Olympics are already the most militarized global sporting event since Moscow in 1980 and perhaps Berlin 1936. Organizers up the ante every day.
The armoured personnel carrier that appeared Tuesday morning outside the Main Press Centre was removed. Reporters arrived Wednesday morning instead to find duos and trios of Chinese commandos clad in camouflage and clutching machine guns at Olympic Green security gates.
No explanation was announced.
People's Liberation Army soldiers in their drab olive uniforms stand motionless and expressionless at the fences. Most of the Games security force is dressed casually in khaki pants, white golf shirts and caps. Their PLA training is apparent whenever they march single file in unison.
Premier Gordon Campbell made a few bold promises during a Wednesday morning speaking engagement at the world's biggest McDonald's on the Olympic Green.
Campbell's answer was blunt when asked if Vancouver would follow Beijing's example and remove or warehouse homeless Downtown Eastsiders during the 2010 Winter Olympics,
"That's simply not going to happen," Campbell said.
Meanwhile, Campbell reacted to the fakery of Beijing's opening ceremony with another pledge. "No lip-synching, I can tell you right now."
A day earlier, he vowed that violent Olympics foes wouldn't be tolerated. He softened that message when asked about an Aug. 6 firebombing of a B.C. Sheriff Services vehicle on the DTES. He said he wasn't aware of the incident, which was publicized on an anti-Olympics e-mail newsletter.
"There are people who will try and take an Olympics and take it down. I think there's a far, far greater number of people who see the Olympics as something that raises us all up," Campbell said. "It brings a magnifying glass to the things that are problems, as well as to the things that are opportunities. In that way, it gives us the opportunity to see the things that we can do better."
Anonymous vandals have boasted on anarchist blogs about damaging premises of Vancouver 2010 sponsors Royal Bank, Bell, General Motors and McDonald's throughout the last year.
BUMS IN SEATS
VANOC CEO John Furlong has a plan to avoid the empty seat epidemic that besieged Torino and is now festering in Beijing. Games' organizers here claim events are sold out, but large blocks of seats bought by sponsors are going unused.
Furlong said Vancouver's plan would become apparent when 2010 tickets go on public sale Oct. 3.
"The goal is to put a person in every seat. I don't think anybody gets any pleasure of being in a stadium where people are dying to get in and they're not able to," Furlong said.
VANOC ticket provider Tickets.com has developed online and mobile ticketing systems that could be used in Vancouver.
Canadian-raised snowboarder Korath Wright took a detour to his New Zealand training camp by visiting the Beijing Games.
Observing what makes an Olympics tick - including athlete transportation and accommodation - is part of Wright's strategy to not only qualify for Vancouver 2010, but to wind up on the podium representing his native Bahamas in halfpipe.