It might not have been the response he wanted to give.
Three or maybe even four times on Wednesday, Canadian reporters gave Vancouver 2010 chief organizer John Furlong a chance to say he wouldn’t duplicate the duplicity revealed in recent days by the folks behind the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony.
He never quite delivered the message he probably wanted to say. Or maybe he did.
Asked initially whether he would promise not to use lip-synching or other tricks when Vancouver unveils the 2010 Olympics to the world in 18 months (yes, it’s that close, folks), Furlong hemmed and hawed and talked about he hasn’t thought that far ahead. Later, he said much the same thing.
After a press conference that was held for the Olympic newsletter Around the Rings at a local McDonald’s (world’s largest free-standing Mickey Dee’s we were told), Furlong talked about how the ceremony has to be just right.
Finally, asked if he would at least tell people that they had to use canned elements, should that become necessary for technical or other reasons, Furlong said his intention was to be as open and transparent as possible.
We’re sure they won’t kick sand in China’s face, but wouldn’t it be great if they had a song delivered by the girl the Chinese rejected?
As stated above, the McDonald’s on the Olympic Green (is that an oxymoron give the number of fast food wrappers that float all over the place?) in Beijing is said to be the world’s largest free-standing McDonald’s in the world. Next door is the official Olympic merchandise store, which probably also is the world’s largest Olympic store. You can buy Beijing themed Swatch watches and Lenovo computer gear, not to mention t-shirts, posters, ball caps, binoculars, fake tattoos, scarves, tea sets, coffee cups, pens and, of course, pins.
Olympic pin-trading isn’t what it used to be, but the cute girls who work at the McDonald’s in the basement of the Main Press Centre still like to hit up foreign strangers for the dollar-store Maple Leaf pins a bunch of brought over just for such occasions. And lots of folks still like to buy them, as evidenced by the thousands of them on sale at the Olympic Green shop. Some showed individual sports with the Beijing logo. Others were countdowns to the start of the Games: “30 days to Opening Ceremonies,” “10 days to Opening Ceremonies,” etc… We looked, but we couldn’t find any pins saying “10 days to lip-synch of the century.”
Sorry, folks. Promise that’s the last word on that subject. At least for today.
LORDS OF THE RINGS
I lost track, but I think the media village I’m staying in is near the fifth ring road of Beijing. I honestly can’t tell. But if you look at a map, you see a whole bunch of giant rings encircling the entire city, providing people easy ways to bypass the downtown frenzy. They’re all crowded, so the Chinese keep building more ring roads. I swear, if you come here in 2012 there will probably be a ring road 23 or something. If you come in 2014, the ring roads for Shanghai and Beijing probably will intersect.
EAU DE VIE
A nice young chap who gave some journalists a ride this morning introduced himself as “Water.” This took the visiting Canadians some getting used to. “You mean ‘Walter,’” they asked. “No, Water.” “Walter,” the visitors insisted. “No. Water.” Okay, that’s cool.
A lot of Chinese people adopt North American names for the sake of us not-so-smart folks who can’t pronounce Chou En Lai or Li Ning. So “Water” it is, mate. On a golf visit to Shenzen, China last year (we know, tough assignment), there were caddies with names like “Daisy” and “Sunshine.” One even took the name of “Chocolate.” -
WANTED: CUTE FILLY
There’s an incredible information system at the main press centre at all Olympic Games called INFO. You can get instant quotes, medal standings, results and press conference highlights at the click of a button. You also can get biographies of athletes and read about how they like kite-boarding or biking or what have you.
But I hadn’t noticed that if you click on biographies and look in one corner of the screen you can find the following entry “horse profiles.” You (well, maybe not you, but some of us) half expect one of them to say. “Born: 2005. Accomplishments: Second at Commonwealth Games. Hobbies: stud-farming and long walks on the beach.”
Can't help wondering if the Canadians might have started better if fiery kayaker Adam Van Koeverden had gone out in one of the first events of the Beijing Games instead of bringing up the rear. A solid performance from Oakville's finest might have inspired his fellow Canadians the way the gold medal by cyclist Nicole Cooke seemingly fired up the Brits who are gathered here in China.
A buddy in the press room here, Andrew Longmore of The Sunday Times, was explaining how the British athletes in Atlanta felt pressure to win because they kept driving past a scoreboard that said "Britain - zero" in the gold medal tally column. Longmore said rowers Matthew Pinsent and Steve Redgrave felt pressured to win, and they did, because they kept seeing the stupid sign, and they said it definitely affected the other British athletes. The rowing gold from Pinsent and Redgrave was the only gold Britain got in 1996, Longmore said.
By contrast, he said, Britain got an unexpected gold from cyclist Jason Queally early on in the Sydney Games and won 11 golds in all. Four years, and a difference of 10 medals. Coincidence? You be the judge. All we know is momentum is a funny thing. And right now, the elevator's going down for the Canadians assembled here.