Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Exclusive: PM pumping Personal Podium

A Nov. 6, 2007 Department of Canadian Heritage report by assistant deputy minister Marie-Genevieve Mounier titled Government of Canada Opportunities Related to Cultural Olympiad offers a hint of a new program that may be launched Thursday when the one-year countdown to Vancouver 2010 is observed. An excerpt of the document, obtained under Access to Information, is below:

Opportunity: Hosting the Olympics is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. The Cultural Olympiad could provide a springboard to launch a nation-wide challenge to strengthen Canadian communities by encouraging every citizen to commit to a Personal Podium. Personal Podium is a concept that would complement existing events such as the Olympic torch relays (sic) and live sites. Citizen commitments would be related to the three Olympic pillars of sports, culture and environment. Commitments could be themed to complement Canadians' strong interest in:
Adopting healthier living habits,
Participating in cultural activities,
Protecting the environment.

Implementation: The 2008 Cultural Olympiad will be a relatively modest arts festival showcasing primarily British Columbia artistic talent. The February 2009 Cultural Olympiad will feature talent from across Canada and could be broadened to include a nation-wide effort launched by the Prime Minister to mark the one-year countdown to the 2010 Games. The Prime Minister, standing with a wide range of Canadians from all walks of life including well-known athletes and artists, would launch his Personal Podium and challenge all Canadians to do the same.

Of A-Roid and the Peking Phish

The two most-talked about (United States of) American athletes this week are Alex ("A-Roid") Rodriguez and Michael ("The Peking Phish") Phelps.
Stick a fork in Roidriguez and thow him on the scrap heap with Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and Jose Canseco. A disgrace. Will the last sponsor to cancel his endorsements please turn out the lights? Will baseball ever be allowed back in the Olympics?
Phelps, who has a March 6 speaking engagement in Vancouver, has lost his Kellogg's cereal deal after the infamous bong photograph.
Now marijuana legalization activists are taking up the cause. Some 2,300 and counting signed an online petition condemning the cereal company. You can bet there were 10,000 others that haven't gotten around to adding their names.
Ex-Seattle police chief Norm Stamper, a drug law reform advocate, added his name to the boycott.
The pro-pot lobby. In a recession, that's not a market segment that a packaged goods snack company should alienate.

1-year countdown climaxes at the Beetle Barn

The provincial government-produced Countdown 2010 announcement is 5-6 p.m. Thursday at the Richmond Olympic Oval. By invitation only. Taxpayers not welcome.
Premier Gordon Campbell will, however, welcome IOC president Jacques Rogge to the 2010 Games' two-month-old showcase venue. Rogge will issue his customary invitation to the world's national Olympic committees and the athletes they represent to gather in peace one year later in Vancouver for the XXI Olympic Winter Games. British Columbia will host the world and the WorldHost program will be reactivated.
The Oval is a lovely building in a municipality known for airplane hangars, big box stores and warehouses. Big windows. Nice ice. Pleasant location by the riverside. Under the Vancouver International Airport's flight path.
That said, the Bird's Nest or Water Cube it is not. Because of the salvaged wood used in the roof, it could be called the Beetle Barn.

Even more on the 1-year countdown

IOC president Jacques Rogge will be in Whistler on Feb. 11 for a 4:45 p.m. news conference at the Whistler Westin before appearing at the Whistler Sliding Centre for a 6 p.m. photo opportunity with an Omega Countdown Clock.
On Feb. 12, he will observe the unveiling of the Bombardier-designed Olympic torch and Hbc-designed torchbearers' uniforms in Whistler Village Square at 8 a.m.
Rogge will formally invite the ice and snow athletes of the world to gather in Vancouver at a 5 p.m. event at the Richmond Olympic Oval.
Anti-Olympics protesters from the Olympics Resistance Network gather at 6 p.m. in Victory Square for a torchlight march around downtown. That's just two blocks from the Queen Elizabeth Theatre where Sarah McLachlan plays the one-year countdown concert at 7:30 p.m.
Doesn't look like anything is planned for the Vancouver Art Gallery's Omega Countdown Clock where the three-year countdown ceremony and unveiling was sparsely attended and went awry with about 100 noisy protesters.

Febby Twelve

2010 Gold Rush has learned that the Olympic flag will be raised on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Feb. 12 to celebrate the one-year countdown to the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. Likewise, the Paralympic flag will be raised there on March 12.
One would have to assume the same will happen at the Legislature in Victoria.
Of course, Feb. 12 is day three of the fifth session of the 38th British Columbia Parliament and the Opposition New Democrats are bound to raise something else: more questions about the true costs and risks of the Games to B.C. taxpayers. The Liberals have done their best to skate, slide and ski around the big snowball.
Feb. 12 is also the three-month countdown to the next provincial election in British Columbia. Will Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell complete his hat-trick or stumble and fall on the way to the finish line? Three months is an eternity in the world of politics.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Exclusive: inside the Vancouver 2010 anti-doping lab

Last time I was at the Richmond Olympic Oval, for the Cold-fx sponsorship announcement on Jan. 20, I sought an update on the development of the anti-doping laboratory for the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. I was told that a peek inside was absolutely not allowed. Important work was underway and it could not be disturbed because the facility will need international standards approval and accreditation from the World Anti-Doping Agency before it can test athletes' urine and blood for banned substances. In 52 weeks, the Oval will be where Olympic medals are won and lost.
I was guided to the exterior southeast corner of the building near the southeast corner and intersection of Hollybridge Way and River Road. The windows were covered. Nothing to see... move along... as they say.
I was in the area on Sunday night and curious if anything had changed. There were lights on in that corner of the building. I was able to gaze through one knee-level window. I stood on my tippy toes and stretched my arm to snap a shot through another window. My camera captured the above shots: a room empty, save for some tables, chairs, filing cabinets and miscellaneous items. There doesn't even appear to be a pot to pee in. This hardly looks like a laboratory in development. Click on the photos to enlarge them.
By the way, maybe someone at VANOC or City of Richmond should invite Google to shoot a new aerial pic. The one that's available by searching Hollybridge Way and River Road on Google Maps gets you a photo that shows the trailer park that was displaced by the $178 million Oval.
I never visited that trailer park, but I wonder if Ricky, Julian and Bubbles had west coast cousins? Where are they now?

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