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Maxed Out

Lessons in Socratic irony

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By G.D. Maxwell

Faster, Higher, More contentious than an ethnic joke at a Brotherhood convention. If this is 2002, the Olympics must be on the agenda. This is the year the ghostly visage of Vancouver’s 2010 Olympic bid begins to show its shape. This is the year the long awaited public consultation finally takes place. This is the year we get an early glimpse of who the winners and losers are likely to be. This is the year Whistler council rolls the dice and hopes the soporific electorate doesn’t turn November’s election into a crapshoot on how they’ve handled the issue so far.

Let the games begin.

Unlike the other contentious issues this town grapples with on a seemingly endless basis – affordability, sustainability, growth limits, to name three of the more interesting ones – you can’t sleep through this one. Apathy is not an option. If the bid’s going to be successful, it’s going to take a huge commitment. The reality of the Games in 2010 is going to touch every life in the valley for years before and forever after. If the bid’s going to be thwarted, it likewise is going to take the concerted efforts of everyone who honestly believes it’s a bad idea that should have been stillborn. "None of the above" isn’t an option this time around.

That’s not to say this is the day you have to choose which side you’re on. I’m not even sure how anyone could have made a firm decision about whether they’re for or against, given the vacuum of information we’ve had to consider.

Since this is a topic that’s likely to keep creeping onto this page, I might as well show my own cards up front. I’m skeptical – whoa, there’s a shocking revelation – but open to persuasive arguments. Whenever I’m skeptical about a tough subject, I like to visit with one of my old teachers, have a spirited exchange of questions and hopefully cast new light into dark corners.

Max: So, who benefits from the Olympics?

Socrates: The highest level answer is, Whistler benefits. The Olympics will bring world-wide exposure, tourists into the next millennium, instant name recognition. 62 per cent of the world’s population watched some part of the Sydney Olympics and they weren’t even in the right hemisphere.

Max: Okay, let’s assume for a moment Whistler needs the exposure, an assumption we’ll probably come back to later. The fact is, these aren’t the Whistler Olympics; they’re going to be the Vancouver Olympics. They will forever be known as the Vancouver Olympics. Who’s going to remember Whistler is where the skiing events took place? Know what I mean? For example, how many of the skiing venues can you name at the Salt Lake City Olympics?

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