The sixth Olympic ring is schadenfreude.
In the days and weeks leading up to Friday’s opening ceremonies for the 2012 Summer Games in London, the international media were gleefully chronicling the myriad of gaffes and shortcomings that have organizers scrambling and issuing statements of reassurance that all will be well.
First it was the weather, cold and rainy then suddenly so hot power lines for a new rail service to the Olympic stadium were melting, resulting in delays and shutdowns.
Ah yes, transportation, the eternal Achilles heel of every modern Olympics; if it’s not cabbies protesting on the Tower Bridge, it’s everyday commuters fretting through gridlock to allow Olympic officials free passage along exclusive traffic lanes.
There are worries about security, as the private company contracted to make the Games safe underestimated the magnitude of the job, necessitating the deployment of the military.
Customs agents are threatening to strike. And nobody is sure how much it will all cost in the end.
Two years ago we were sweating many of those very same issues in the days preceding Vancouver’s Winter Olympics. And no one was more vocal in their criticism than the British media; one paper even girded their readers for “the worst Games ever.”
But all of the problems were forgotten as soon as Wayne Gretzky lit the Olympic cauldron at Jack Poole Plaza. Just as they likely were when the torch was set ablaze in London.
And we’ll all settle in for two weeks of dazzling athletic competition, compelling human interest stories and national pride.
We’ll cheer everyone in red and white, but especially for our local heroes.