COLUMN: Another Olympic spectacle kicks off

WRIGHT TURN: It used to be every four years. Now it’s every two years.

It used to be every four years. Now it’s every two years.

Was it really more than two years ago that the world descended on Vancouver and the Lower Mainland for the 2010 Winter Games? Sure doesn’t seem like it.

But here we are, with the London 2012 Summer Games already underway. Since the International Olympic Committee moved to alternating seasonal Games, the world barely gets through one Olympics and the hype building toward the next Games is already in full swing.

Ironically, the media focus during the buildup to these Games  was quite similar to 2010 – the weather and security concerns.

In the weeks prior to the opening ceremonies, the company contracted to provide security personnel admitted it wasn’t prepared nor adequately staffed to do the job.

Queue the call to the military to step into the breach with some 4,500 troops.

Media reports now indicate security at the London Games should be as tight as originally planned, which is probably tighter than most other recent Olympics – London has a strong reputation when it comes to public security, despite several high-profile incidents.

And while London laughed at our winter woes two years ago, during a season that failed to produce the usual surplus of snow and had organizers resort to trucking in sufficient piles to make certain venues viable, the lead up to their own Games was plagued by the wettest June since the late 1800s.

Numerous venues were at risk of simply becoming alternatives for all the swimming and other water-based sports.

Rowing through the streets instead of on the River Thames (actually on Eton Dorney Lake, adjacent to the river), would have provided some interesting spectacles.

Alas, July allowed some drying-out and it appears any potential for wackiness went down the drain.

Still, one can’t help but look at  the hand-wringing over the dampness as anything but karmic justice, in my smirking opinion. It’s a wet country to begin with, so Britain should have known better then to tempt fate by thumbing their collective nose at Vancouver for its powder problems.

Regardless, the Games got going in earnest Friday with the usual pomp and flair of the opening ceremonies. But not before close to a dozen athletes were ejected from competition for alleged doping infractions.

This was promised to be the most tested Olympics ever, and early indications are it will be.

Regardless of the rigorous testing, it baffles me that athletes are still attempting (and many no doubt finding ways to elude detection) to cheat at their chosen sport.

But, scandals and silliness aside, I will only be paying so much attention to these Olympics. My interest has waned steadily over the years, from being on the edge of the family sofa when Ben Johnson raised his arm in historic victory (only to be stripped of the title), to grudgingly watching figure skating because that’s sport a certain significant individual most wanted to see.

This year, I’ve no TV on which to watch the inevitable wall-to-wall coverage, but I’ll likely pay attention generally online, and more specifically to a few athletes in particular – like those four from Nanaimo and a few from the Comox Valley (where I grew up).

And Ryder Hesjedal, whose remarkable cycling career I’ve followed since I worked at the Goldstream Gazette in Langford and his rising star came to my attention. I was keen to follow this year’s Tour de France until the 2012 Giro d’Italia champion was forced out of the race by an unfortunate mass crash.

Oh, and I’ll probably keep tabs on the mountain bikers, since that’s the sport I’m most closely associated in my own sporting pursuits.

editor@nanaimobulletin.com

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