By PEGGY MORTON, TML Daily, February 27, 2010
MANY people are asking why Canada came into these games with the slogan “own the podium.” Why is this put as the aim of the games and the measure of success or failure? After all, Canada’s population is only 33 million, while the U.S. has almost ten times that number of people, the Russian Federation more than four times our population. Germany has more than 81 million people while China’s population is more than one billion greater than that of Canada.
The whole concept of “owning the podium” is completely lacking in a modern spirit of friendship of the peoples of the world and a welcome to the athletes from all over the world who have come to compete. What is going on here? Why does the Harper government and the financial oligarchy want to invite the world to come to Canada and then declare Canada “the best country in the world,” instead of promoting the spirit of friendship, solidarity, respect and appreciation of all peoples and their right to be? Canadians have to ask themselves why the Vancouver Olympics are being used to promote such a chauvinist and backward outlook.
It is tragic to hear incredibly talented youth who have given their all speak of how they have let down their country if they finished a fraction of a second behind those who won a medal. What happened to the idea that participating in the Olympics is itself a huge achievement. How could any of the athletes be considered “losers”?
The display from the monopoly media is not fitting of a host country either. Prior to the amazing performance of Canada’s gold medalists in pairs ice dancing, CTV announcer Rod Black, referring to the U.S. and Canadians skaters who actually train together, stated that “there are no friends here tonight,” before yelping: Today North America, next Russia!” Of course the level of culture of the athletes did not mirror this boorish and jingistic comment, but this is the outlook which is being pushed at every turn.
Canadians are passionate about their hockey and many other sports. Of course Canadians are rooting for their team and their athletes. But what is taking place here is something quite different. As well, some athletes have been selected by a private entity, B2ten, for support and funding on the basis that they are “winners.” B2ten, seems to follow the model of “making Canadian monopolies internationally competitive” – in other words that the state mobilizes the resources of the society behind the monopolies that can be winners internationally and shut out the competition. It picks the athletes it considers the “winners” and provides the funding and resources so that they can become the winners internationally. The noose of monopoly right to decide everything has been tightened.
Even before the games are finished, the Harper government has announced that its funding of athletes is finished. The B2ten organization which funded 24 athletes of its choosing for the 2010 games is now the name of the game. Does this mean that from now on, corporate sponsorship will determine which athletes get funding and a whole apparatus dedicated to their “success in the international market” and which do not? Such developments, all in the name of high ideals should be of concern to Canadians.
Canadians need to seriously discuss how Harper and the rich are using the Olympics and the enthusiasm of Canadians for their youth who are competing in the games. What agenda is being pursued? Historically, when the rich push base chauvinism, it goes hand in hand with preparation for war. The push for Canada to “own the podium” and Harper’s obscene boasts that the large presence of Canadian troops in Haiti shows that “Canada is a major actor” is a comparison that needs serious consideration.
Slightly edited for this publication