a weekly blog for all interested in professional communications issues

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Nice ending for Olympics

There probably wasn't a better way to open the ending of an Olympics on Canadian soil -- making light of ourselves. The awkward malfunction that delayed the lighting of the indoor cauldron at the opening ceremonies was finally made right.

A mime went through the motions of pulling the fourth arm of the cauldron from the floor of B.C. Place and then former speed skating champion Catriona Le May Doan set the mechanical arm ablaze.

It was a fine example of Canadian self-deprecation and humour. It was also a fine way of telling the world that despite our sudden conversion to loud patriotism and "Own The Podium" bragging, we haven't lost our humble and polite ways.

The Vancouver Olympics may have started with a terrible tragedy with the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili followed by a whole series of embarrassing mishaps. But the final week of the Olympics was every Canadian's dream with a record 14 gold medals for Canada and 26 in all for third place standing.

Canada may not have been able to "Own The Podium" as promised. But the third-place finish, including the hockey victory over the U.S., was close enough for most Canadians. The Vancouver Olympics will always be remembered as an important turning point in our national psyche.

Even the British media had nice things to say at the conclusion of these Olympic games.

What will be interesting is whether corporate Canada continues to support our athletes in the next four years. The federal government has already signaled it is not prepared to shell out the way it did for games on Canadian soil.

Another interesting post-mortem issue is did our gold medals match the sports which got the most "Own The Podium" funding? Or would those gold medals have been won anyway?

But that question is for when national euphoria has subsided. Canadians should be grateful to organizers who were able to turn an accident-prone Olympiad around and make Canada very proud.

Canadians should also be grateful that the Harper government showed some restraint during these Olympics.

It wasn't a good sign when the official logo looked like a knock off of the Conservative Party's insignia. But aside from official appearances by the Prime Minister and one broadcast interview, the Tories kept a respectful distance.l

Perhaps the Tories have learned something.

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