If it were up to Dr. Chris Shaw from 2010 Watch, he would pull the plug on the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games right now, ending what he sees as a colossal waste of money, social equity, and damage to the environment.
“Frankly, I’d like to see the Games not happen at all,” he said. “I still think there’s some possibility of that, some chance that in Vancouver the amount of resistance will make it too difficult to host the Games.”
But while Shaw admits that the Games will most likely go on as planned, he says that protests planned by advocates for the poor and First Nations will be embarrassing enough internationally to damage Canada’s reputation. And although his group may not be able to stop Vancouver 2010 from happening, he hopes a new documentary called Five Ring Circus — soon to be followed by a book of the same name — can stop Olympic developments like the proposed legacy trails in the Callaghan Valley, and serve as a cautionary tale for other cities thinking about hosting the Olympics.
“What has happened in Vancouver and other cities are the same things that will happen elsewhere. It’s both educational for people who live here in trying to understand how this all came about and why the Games are more expensive and more environmentally destructive than we were ever told, but it also reaches out to other cities.”
Five Ring Circus has been screened several times in Vancouver, and has been reviewed positively by the media there. The film will get its first Whistler public showing this Saturday, at an event hosted by the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment, and the Whistler chapter of the Council of Canadians.
WORCA president Sara Jennings says AWARE is neutral on the topic of the Games, but wanted to give 2010 Watch an opportunity to tell their side of the story.
“It’s basically just for discussion, and to show the other side of the issues,” she said. “I wouldn’t say we support either side fully, but we already know one side and we want to see what the other side has to say. It should be an interesting discussion.”
AWARE has participated in Olympic planning in the past in order to have a voice at the planning table, and is still involved in some discussions relating to the environment.
According to Shaw, a professor ophthalmology and visual sciences at UBC, there are several reasons why he opposes the Games.
“First of all, it’s more expensive than we were ever told, which is something that’s just beginning to occur to people now,” he said. “Not only operating costs, but the venue construction costs, and all the infrastructure costs that go into making and winning bids.”