Are Games becoming disaster?

By TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

VANCOUVER — It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Holding the Games on the wet West Coast of Canada? No problem.

And it’s gone downhill from there.

How many more things have to happen at Vancouver 2010 before the world will start to see this — or perceive this — to be a disaster?

How many events have to be postponed? How many competitions have to be effected by bad design, bad weather, bad decisions and bad luck?

It started on the morning of the opening ceremonies with the death of Georgia luge athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili. It was followed by an Atlanta-like transportation breakdown in Vancouver which delivered some Canadian athletes and some aboriginal dancers to the stadium late.

There was the opening ceremonies snafu when one of the hydraulic ice totems which was supposed to re-emerge from the floor didn’t, causing a significant delay of the highlight moment and leaving Catriona LeMay Doan unable to participate with Wayne Gretzky, Nancy Greene and Steve Nash in the quadruple lighting of the cauldron.

Early Saturday morning, the men’s downhill was postponed by weather in Whistler.

Olympic writers resembled baseball writers, waiting to find out if there was going to be a rainout of the women’s moguls later in the day.

Early in the morning, it was announced the men’s luge would start from well down the course, at the women’s start, effectively meaning an Olympic event was being played from the ladies tees.

Before the four-note ‘O Canada’ fog horn had sounded in Coal Harbour, protesters were breaking windows at The Bay downtown and causing a disturbance that some media reports were characterizing as a riot.

If it was a fully-accredited riot, then Vancouver now has the trifecta of an Olympic riot to go with a Grey Cup riot and a Stanley Cup riot.

For the rest of the Olympics, the world will be watching the events at Canada’s sliding venue wondering what else could happen there. Plenty of stuff has happened there prior to the Olympics. Canada’s legendary bobsled driver Pierre Lueders crashed on the section of the track now known as Lueders’ Loop. But it was Mellisa Hollingsworth, the Canadian skeleton competitor who crashed and smashed on many occasions of the extra training time Canada had on the world’s fastest venue last spring, walking away bruised and bloodied on several occasions.

“It was a long summer of doubt,” she said back then. “A lot of people probably wouldn’t have known that with me being on the team for 15 years and winning and Olympic medal.”

She described going down the course on one occasions, with the sled on top of her as “like jagged sea of ice poking into my body and you can’t stop.”

You don’t think she — any many others — are thinking about that now.

Levan Gureshidze, the Georgian teammate of the deceased Kumaritashvili, decided not to practice yesterday and may not compete. Can you blame him?

Performances will be affected.

As for the downhill postponement, they stopped holding World Cup events in Whistler because of postponements in the past. But downhill postponements are hardly unusual at the Olympics.

Sarajevo in 1984 had several.

But there’s a potential for a multitude of rain and fog postponements at several other venues, including the freestyle and snowboard venues at Cypress in West Vancouver.

I’ve been joking for months about all the TV men I pictured standing in front of venues obscured by cloud telling viewers, in dozens of different languages: “And now, back to curling.”

Except curling hasn’t even started yet.

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca

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