Isaac Oommen: Why Vancouver will welcome the Olympics with a massive protest

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      By Isaac Oommen

      On Friday (February 12) at 3 p.m., thousands of people from Vancouver and around the world will arrive at the downtown art gallery for a massive festival that will march to the opening ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Although the city, Olympic organizers, and security officials will brand them as protesters or demonstrators, they will be there to celebrate their right to be active participants, not just of their respective cities and neighbourhoods but of the world.

      The convergence welcoming the Olympic torch in this way is made up of a number of groups that stand for everything from free-speech rights to the abolition of racist immigration policies. One thing in which they are all unified is their basic human rights, including the rights of expression and assembly.

      For years, the Olympics have branded those that have resisted this $6-billion showdown as being “anti-Olympics”. Very rarely do we hear about everything that the Olympics stand against. From a historical opposition to women’s rights in sport to today’s Orwellian surveillance state, the Olympics move in and oppose everything that we as responsible people of the world are trying to achieve.

      At the end of the day, the Olympic industry—via the International Olympic Committee, Vanoc, and the plethora of alphabet agencies with which it partners—wishes to turn the people of this city, as well as every city left devastated in its wake, into mere hosts to drain dry, all under the guise of sport and nationalism.

      Criticize the Olympics, and you will get from Vanoc the glib “Why do you hate amateur sports?” No one in this convergence hates sports. Most of us play a wide variety of sports, but do not mercilessly monetize it. Most of us cheer our local and international teams with all our lungs and souls.

      What the people that will be converging stand against is not sports or even the Olympics as an idea, but the way in which the IOC and Vanoc have gone about their business, both historically and in Vancouver. The IOC has drained the municipal, provincial, and national treasury of money that should rightfully go to schools, libraries, hospitals, and a range of other more vital programs. All the while, Vanoc-endorsed politicians trumpeted lies that the residents of this town and province would not end up paying much for the Games. The result of this spectacle, we were told, will be the long-term benefit of investment in the city, since no one but the IOC will actually reap the money from ticket sales and corporate sponsorship.

      It’s not just the matter of what Vanoc does but also the cloak-and-dagger way it goes about doing it. The Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit has visited the residences, workplaces, families, and neighbours of dissenters in a blatant show of intimidation. Vanoc’s city-official friends enacted laws that tried to impinge dissent of any sort, whether it be signs in private homes decrying the Games or placards voicing protest against the IOC’s tactics.

      The protest on February 12 will include people from all over Canada and the world that came to this city because they believe in democracy. What Vanoc and the IOC are perpetrating is the very definition of what Mussolini called fascism or corporatism—the merger of state and corporate power. It is the IOC that is anti-democratic. Everyone that stands against the Olympics is saying that they are a political participant and not a serf, and that they will not allow basic democratic rights to be destroyed so that the IOC can profit.

      The Olympics may be here, but the people of this city are too and they will make their voices heard. They will also loudly tell other people of the world and Olympic host cities that we can together stop this behemoth from destroying entire cities under the obfuscation of “bringing the world together for sport”.

      Isaac Oommen wrote this commentary on behalf of the 2010 Welcoming Committee, which is organizing the Take Back Our City festival and march on Friday (February 12).



      paridigm shift

      Feb 11, 2010 at 12:56pm

      HEY protestors...something to think about ....I guess it's time to live in the NOW instead of constantly being chained by our negative thoughts about the future and our remorse for the past .

      Just watch what your fellow persons do -when you become concious and head off on your own direction and not associate with a collective repressed identity.... Your decisive strength scares them and they will do what they can to keep you where you are... because your part of their lazy identity and you affirm their lack of goals. Only follow your conciousness not the collective . Hey protesters....Try and think of nothing for 30 seconds and observe how many of your thoughts rooted in the past and future ...and they are all mostly negative and constraining... live in the NOW and nothing is overwhelming. After all, the present moment is really the only thing that exists in whiich change can be made . So walk in a different direction and watch yourself think for today instead of protesting along with the repressed collective thought of others . Try it and your life will change


      Feb 11, 2010 at 1:29pm

      Just a question. What do you hope to accomplish?


      Feb 11, 2010 at 1:36pm

      paridigm shift, I take it you don't care about your rights and freedoms? Don't tell others how to live their life

      freedom advocate

      Feb 11, 2010 at 2:16pm

      To those of you who are crying bloody murder about your rights and freedoms being taken away for the Olympics:

      If you were half as worldly and compassionate as you claim to be, you'd know that human rights are being abused on a massive scale in many, many countries around the world to an extent that is so far beyond what you're seeing now that the comparison is not even valid. Spend more time advocating on behalf of those people, rather than wasting your breath on this tempest in a teapot.


      Feb 11, 2010 at 2:32pm

      "Just a question. What do you hope to accomplish?"

      Maybe use the Olympics as a platform to show the public how our money is being thrown away by this government?


      Feb 11, 2010 at 2:47pm

      As the commons continue to be occupied by a militarized zone, corporate branding and colonizing people's minds through corporate media, it is imperative that there be examples of critical thinking, moral reasoning and intellectual ability willing to be seen and heard. If not, we live perilously close to becoming a totalitarian society.

      Neil Postman wrote in the forward to his book "Amusing Ourselves to Death" (comparing George Orwell's 1984 and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World) the following:

      "in Huxley's vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think."

      Postman's goes on by quoting Huxley in his sequel, Brave New World Revisted, "the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions".

      "In Brave New World, they (people) are controlled by inflicting pleasure."

      So, I take my hat off to those who are willing to be seen and heard and counted. Many of the residents of BC have followed the series of injustices, deceits and outright lies perpetrated against our society by those in positions of trust and its time to bear witness.

      What do they hope to accomplish? Well let Leonard Cohen answer that,

      "There is a crack, a crack, in everything...that's how the light gets in."

      mew seng

      Feb 11, 2010 at 3:02pm

      Yay--Brad! I did not vote for the Olympics to come to Vancouver--I find that it is outrageous for this "Police State" to appear everywhere--one cannot park along Granville--bridges closing--now we should buy a candle and light it along the way of the "torch" along East Mall...? I will not be here/there--missed the plane to get out of town like my friends did--oh well-guess i can hide in my apartment. I do appreciate the excitement and all the "free venues", but to bar regular people who are from this city to certain public spaces and highways is outrageous!


      Feb 11, 2010 at 3:13pm

      I agree with paridigm shift ... weird but it makes sense...


      Feb 11, 2010 at 3:45pm

      All the gimme gimme gimme people with no jobs who suck of the taxpayers titty will be out in force I'm sure.

      Angie Roussin

      Feb 11, 2010 at 3:55pm

      How can you not support the people who are fighting for your freedom? It's like saying you're upset that black people, women and gay's now have rights? (The problem seems to be that people don't understand just how serious this political situation is).

      There is no one they are fighting against, it is everyone they are fighting for. It's sad how easy it is to divide people when there are passions involved but I think you will find that we are all on the same side.

      The only ones who are going to benefit should something go wrong, are the government officials looking to remove all rights. As a designer, I really love being able to express myself freely in this world and am grateful to the ones who have fought for that right. Thank you peace keepers! And good luck to all the athletes! I'm proud of you all.