In an interesting development, the Canadian Olympic Committee CEO Chris Rudge said in a news conference this afternoon that the Own the Podium Program has failed. Canada won’t be owning the podium in Vancouver, according to the COC. “We’d be living in a fool’s paradise if we said we were going to catch the Americans and win,” was the way Rudge put it. For those keeping financial score at home, Own the Podium spent $117 million, including $66 million in tax dollars, on improving the performance of elite Canadian athletes. The goal of the program was to win the most total medals at the Vancouver games. With one week of competition left, Canada is 4th place on the total medal table, tied with South Korea and Austria with 9 medals. The US leads with 24 total medals.
How important is it for Team Canada to finish first in the overall medal standings? In a nationally representative survey of Canadians conducted last November, one of the questions asked: “Do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, or strongly disagree with the following statement? It is important that Canadian athletes win the most total medals, including gold, silver, and bronze.”
Strongly Agree 18%
Somewhat Agree 43%
Somewhat Disagree 26%
Strongly Disagree 13%
The responses are not weighted by population – that’s just a raw percentage score from the survey. In any case, almost two thirds of those surveyed agreed with that statement. Another question was: “How important do you think Canada’s medal count is to Canada’s standing in the world?”
Very Important 19%
Somewhat Important 50%
Somewhat Unimportant 22%
Very Unimportant 9%
Uh oh. Looks like Rudge’s announcement is going to make a lot of people unhappy.