By Humaira Taz
The long anticipated opening ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver on February was fantastic, but it could have been better. With the death of young Nodar Kumaritashvili of Georgia in an accident while doing a training run for the luge just hours before the opening ceremony, and some technical glitches while raising the four pillars for the torches, the overall spirit was a bit subdued. Nevertheless, BC Place Stadium was filled with about 50,000 spectators, all eager to see the opening ceremony held indoors for the first time in history.
The opening speech was delivered by Michaelle Jean, the Governor General of Canada, and was followed by John Furlong, the VANOC (Vancouver Organizing Committee) CEO, who welcomed everyone and spoke of the rich and diverse cultures of Canada. International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge acknowledged the death of the Georgian athlete and expressed sympathy for his family and teammates. All the 82 nations marched in, Canada being the last one. When the Georgian athletes walked in wearing black armbands to honor their teammate, the audience gave them a standing ovation.
With performances from Bryan Adams, Nelly Furtado, Sarah McLachlan, Canadian slam poet Shane Koyczan, French-Canadian singer Garou, and many others complementing the visual stunts created using LEDs, the opening ceremony was very impressive. The lighting of the cauldron with the torches carried by three of the most famous Canadian athletes marked the glorious moment of the ceremony. Fifteen winter sports events will be held before the end of the 2010 Winter Olympics on February 28.
What pinched my mind most was that despite Canada’s extensive preparations and renovations of infrastructure, venues, security, and the opening ceremony with a fat expenditure of about $6 billion, there was not as much hype about the event as it was for the 2008 Olympics held in China. Although it might be argued that the reduced hype was due to the fact that this is Winter Olympics while the one in China was, well, the Summer Olympics it is not a very convincing argument. After all, it is still the OLYMPICS!
It might also be because China is the rising power now. The day might come when yellow will be the new white – but I will keep these musings to myself. After spending a good amount of time under communism, China was just as determined to show the world its excelling capabilities in all arenas as people were eager to see them. Canada’s case is a bit different: everyone knows it as a nice and peaceful G8 country, which is very cold and where people go fishing and skiing. Maybe it is a bit harsh on my part, but there is nothing new or fresh about Canada.