Games golden for entrepreneurs

By ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency

VANCOUVER — Despite unprecedented coverage on three major Canadian networks viewers have yet to see the two most hotly contested events at this year’s Olympics: Scalping and flag vending.

Robson Street, Granville Street and every other major downtown thoroughfare is peppered with entrepreneurs from around the world hawking tickets or national silks.

The fact their business is brisk speaks volumes of what these Games are all about.

Despite what some foreign scribes have suggested, these Games have been a phenomenal success, generating unequalled national pride for all those in attendance.

The venues, the transportation setup, the backdrop and the overall organization of these Olympics are first class, creating an environment conducive to what many taking part insist has been the “best week of their lives.”

Ask anyone who is there and they’ll tell you that outside of the horrific grub served up at every Olympic venue, their experience has been golden.

Which is why those who’ve been contemplating a trip west to soak up the experience need to act.

Contrary to the pre-Games hype, it’s not too late to get tickets, book a flight or find accommodations.

You simply need to be resourceful.

Of course, you’re going to pay through the nose to watch a Canadian men’s hockey game.

But tickets for every other event can be snagged for very little over face value from any number of scalpers or “ticket wholesalers” who’ve opened storefronts all over the downtown core.

Flights are still dirt cheap for the 70-minute jaunt and the new Canada Line train added for the Games gets you from the airport to downtown in less than 20 minutes for $8. (It’s free if you already have an event ticket.)

Finding a place to sleep is perhaps the biggest challenge, but surely you know a friend of a friend who has a couch in the burbs who’d gladly let you crash on in exchange for, say, taking them to a curling draw.

Even if you elected not to shell out for an Olympic event, you’ll easily feel part of these Games by simply taking in the dozens of free hospitality tents and hundreds of exhibits all over town celebrating the spirit of the Olympics.

The city is one massive party right now.

You’ll never feel prouder to be a Canadian than you will be by simply being here, joining in an impromptu celebration on the streets when Canada wins a medal or simply wearing red like everyone else.

Taking their cue from the volunteers in Calgary, who became one of the hallmarks of the 1988 Games, those helping out at the venues and all over town are wonderful ambassadors for our great nation, simply adding to the pride you’ll feel.

It’s symbolic of the brilliant attitude that envelops every Olympics, which boils down to being the world’s only celebration of humanity.

Unlike typical sporting events, no one tries to one-up or denigrate fans from another country.

They simply cheer together while wearing different colours.

The brilliant weather simply adds to the atmosphere as hundreds of thousands mull through the city soaking in the atmosphere, the sights and the sounds of a street party that just happens to have the world’s top winter athletes performing daily.

So stop thinking about it and start packing.

Get on a plane, buy yourself a flag and wave it as proudly as the rest of us have here all week. Your only regret will be if you don’t do it.

eric.francis@sunmedia.ca

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