In February 2010, Vancouver will host the Winter Olympics. As the Wall Street Journal reported, these games come with a different attitude from Canada in terms of winning.
Quick history lesson of Canada hosting Olympic games. Canada has hosted the Olympics in 1976 (Montreal) and 1988 (Calgary). In both of these games, Canada failed to win a single gold medal. They hope that the upcoming Olympic Games will change that. In fact, they are banking on it.
After Vancouver won the games in 2003, the government created the “Own the Podium” program with the objective to win the overall medal count. The article states that the government and other private groups has contributed 120 million CAD to the Own the Podium program. This has created a conflict amongst Canadians. Like the article states, some Canadians are happy about the push to win. While others are saying that it is very American and that is not what Canada is about.
I think there are two interesting questions as I sit down in front of my TV set this February and watch the Olympics. The first is regarding the 120 million dollars. Is that what Canadians truly valued for winning the podium (or gold medals)? Is the true value higher or lower? Second, what happens if Canada does not win the gold medal in ice hockey? Potentially, Canada could still win the overall medal count and not win that gold in hockey (which anyone who has lived or been in Canada realizes is a very important event). Would the games be considered a failure in the eyes of Canadians if they lose ice hockey on their home turf?
*Thanks to Bryan Goodall who sent me the article.