2010 Olympics Business News for the Vancouver and Whistler
regions of British Columbia. Plus, Alberta, the rest of Canada, Washington
State, Oregon, Idaho, Montana & California
Can Mayor Gregor & Twitter Save the 2010 Olympics?
Hint: One of them can ...
Published January 10 2009 -
Some argue the Olympics doesn't need saving, while others contend 2010 has been in a slow death spiral for quite some time.
VANOC's refusal to responsibly address Vancouver's homeless issue in a timely manner indicated years ago something was terribly wrong in 2010 Olympic paradise. VANOC kept insisting it wasn't their problem. Granted, they didn't create homelessness, but 2010 definitely made it worse.
Olympic organizations and their political partners, sponsors, and suppliers including local mainstream news media also failed to recognize that customers come first.
In this era of Twitter and blogs, all residents and businesses in our Olympic Host region are not only active partners, but also customers.
In the past, this group was simply held hostage
and used as a tax piñata. No more amigo.
Olympic organizations and their 2010 partners still think their most important ally, Vancouverites, are naive.
VANOC CEO John Furlong and his partner Premier Gordon Campbell underestimate the intelligence and social media power of locals, and they arrogantly ignore our Think Local Act Global reach.
Now that Vancouver's new mayor, Gregor Robertson, founder and former CEO of the Happy Planet organic juice company has pulled aside VANOC's cloak of secrecy and revealed the true cost of hosting an Olympic event, local mainstream news media act surprised.
The Vancouver Sun would like us to believe 2010 overrun costs are primarily, if not solely, a result of the economic downturn. They make a lot of noise about it today in January 2009, but it's a little late in the game to throw such a disingenuous hissy fit.
Thanks to the internet, most smart people saw through the charade long ago. The interesting twist today however is that mainstream news media got scooped big time by our mayor and citizen journalists.
It's no wonder newspapers are going bankrupt.
Vancouver's brand new mayor, Gregor Robertson did media's job.
Shouldn't media, a very long time ago, have been reporting more thoroughly regarding the Athletes' Village financial scandal?
Why didn't mainstream news do more to protect our community?
I suspect it's due to what media critic
Noam Chomsky describes as necessary illusion. Local news media made it look like they were on the community's side, but it seems they had more concern for their advertisers. Either that or they're just plain dumb. You decide.
Now that Vancouver’s back is against the wall, The Sun, a newspaper that happens to be an Olympic partner/supplier is jerking around like a jackrabbit on crack scratching, humping, and thumping. Vaughn Palmer's recent articles about it are vapid and at this late date, moot.
How do they also explain the $12 billion deficit in Athens after their 2004 fiasco, or the fact Turin threatened bankruptcy only two months before their big Olympic event in 2006? It's three strikes in a row for the IOC.
The downturn in the economy had zero impact on these Olympic events, yet still they were all money pits that produced very negligible returns.
According to Vancouver's news media, something “unique” happened in BC. Since 2003 I’ve researched, written, and meticulously documented how contemporary Olympic events impact a Host community, and I can tell you without hesitation that nothing occurred in Vancouver that doesn't occur in other Olympic regions. The only difference is that the global economy has made it worse.
Developers and politicians would like us to believe our current economic woes are representative of a “special” anomaly and as a result no one could foresee how 2010 would undermine Vancouver’s economic stability.
On the contrary, well-documented evidence by not only me, but a long line of Olympic researchers and writers including experts like IOC executive Richard Pound, and professor Dr. Helen Lenskyj, and pro-Olympic writer Tony Webb clearly indicate the Olympic business model is outdated and broken, and it has been for a long time.
The reality is that overruns like this occur in all Olympic regions.
Isn’t it ironic newspapers are now going bankrupt faster than the ink dries on their front pages? Don’t let them take you down with the ship and make you pay for their irresponsibility and greed.
We warned mainstream news media long ago an Olympic iceberg was on the horizon, but they looked the other way in an effort to protect their financial interests. A heads-up by them to our community a few years ago would have been the ethical thing to do.
It's a little late to take a last puff of BC Bud, zip up your pants and yell, "ICEBERG DEAD AHEAD!" now that Vancouver 2010 has a gaping hole in her hull just like the sunken Queen of the North.
Fortunately, some people built their own lifeboats and put life jackets on long ago. Unfortunately though too many were fooled into believing they and our community would make an Olympic fortune by virtue of simply living and doing business in BC. They trustingly bought tickets on the Titanic and partied throughout the artificial boom.
Even though it was internet writers who raised the earliest alarms, every day I watch on blogs and Twitter as people and companies still naively coo and align with local news media.
You can't have it both ways.
It's either sink with media ... or swim towards the community lifeboat.
When you lay your head on your pillow tonight ask yourself if you support our community, or if you side with news media. If you're still awake an hour later you'll know the answer, and eventually so will everyone else.
Never let your short-term greed
get in the way of your long-term greed.
In almost every Olympic region the majority of residents were just as surprised as you to learn they had been mislead by organizations they thought were beyond reproach.
Most people at one point in their young hearts dreamt of being an Olympic champion, and the youthful fantasy was carried forth into adulthood propelling them to believe Olympic organizations could do no wrong.
It’s time to grow up.
After learning Vancouver residents would be on the hook for the estimated $875 million 2010 Athlete’s Village debacle, trusting tax-paying souls in Vancouver and across Canada are shocked yet again by deficit reality.
I wonder how many of you over the years looked at Montreal and thought, “Those Quebec fools. It took them thirty years to pay off their 1976 once-in-a-lifetime Olympic debt. They surely are stupid.”
Or how many Vancouverites also mistakenly thought in 2004 how lazy the Greeks were for getting themselves into such an Olympic mess. Or what did you think in 2006 when Italian residents were held hostage by their local Olympic committee and forced to either come up with mega millions in ransom to bail out their Games at the eleventh hour or suffer the embarrassment of looking like fools on the world stage?
Be honest, how many Vancouverites arrogantly felt
we could never find ourselves in the same situation?
You thought we were too smart.
Well how smart do you feel today?
What do you think the rest of the world is now thinking as they look at Vancouver and watch as we implode over promises mathematically impossible to deliver? The numbers simply could not add up, but most Vancouverites refused to consider we would end up like Montreal, Athens, Turin, or Beijing; all who are mistakenly perceived to be idiots.
Truth be told, taxpayers in Olympic Host regions are not fools.
They are trusting.
Take solace in the fact however there is a
modern-day way out of this economic disaster.
There is a solution that was not
to all those past Olympic regions.
The solution will be easier to manage than you think, unless of course you still foolishly and unconditionally put your faith in Olympic organizations, politicians, and especially local news media.
Canada’s taxpayers do not have to absorb the brunt of these irresponsible and hidden overrun costs.
The solution is relatively simple.
For starters, consider carefully before you volunteer for 2010.
More importantly though, go to the organizations making a killing off the 2010 Olympics and demand they pony up money to cover overrun costs that at recent past events were always foisted upon unsuspecting taxpayers.
If you’ve read my book and followed this blog you already know
exactly where to go and look for money - Olympic SPONSORS.
In all the turmoil sponsors still make a financial fortune off the Games.
NBC, the official Olympic broadcaster boasts they promote advertising to 3 billion people during an average Winter Olympics, and to 4 billion people at a Summer Games. I’m sure Canada’s CTV will do just fine too.
Your taxes shoot through the roof while Olympic sponsors,
partners, suppliers and local news media make a killing.
For many years I’ve asked in this blog and in my book,
“If you have to pay for it, shouldn’t you benefit too?”
There are many hidden costs associated with hosting an Olympic event, and unfortunately you are still only seeing the leading edge.
The worst is yet to come.
I steadfastly maintain that the people and companies making the economic Olympic fortune should be responsible for this catastrophe, and before even one more cent is shelled out by trusting taxpayers, Vancouver’s new mayor, Gregor Robertson, should go hand in hand with VANOC to each Olympic sponsor, partner, and supplier and renegotiate to have them contribute more funds and bail us out of this nightmare.
Don't forget too The Vancouver Sun and Globe and Mail newspapers.
Most Olympic sponsors generate vast sums of revenue
associating their corporations with the Olympic brand.
Ask sponsors ... are you ethical?
Do you feel civic responsibility?
Are you will willing to do the right thing or are you simply going to look the other way like sponsors did last summer regarding human rights issues associated with the Beijing 2008 Games?
In case readers of this blog haven’t been paying attention, at the behest of actor/activist Mia Farrow, director Stephen Spielberg did the right thing last year and chose not to associate his name or efforts with the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Spielberg passed on an Olympic payout and took the high road.
Why would he want to besmirch his sterling reputation?
In 2008, four TOPS Olympic sponsors, a record in one year, decided to no longer support the Olympics. Kodak bowed out, and so did Manulife Financial, Lenovo and most recently Johnson & Johnson.
I wrote recently in another posting that BusinessWeek asked Kodak, "Are Olympic Sponsorships Worth It?" Kodak's Chairman and CEO, Antonio Perez's video response is interesting.
Granted, none of these sponsors cited their departure was for ethical reasons, but obviously these companies know something you don’t.
I don’t want Olympic sponsors to
put their tails
between their legs and skulk away from 2010.
I want you instead to do the ethical thing and make 2010 right.
I . . . we want you to take a small portion of the millions, and maybe even billions in profit you derive from associating your brands with the Olympics, and not only bail out VANOC and the IOC, but more importantly help our community – your customers.
Don’t do to your customers what the recording industry did to theirs.
Respect us or pay the price.
VANOC CEO John Furlong might not have
foresight or nerve to ask sponsors, so I will ...
Olympic sponsors, you helped get us into this mess.
Please help us climb out.
How about it Mayor Robertson?
You don't seem
like a politician full of hot air.
Are you up for the challenge?
How happy will your planet be when the 2010 ship takes on more water and you haven't done everything in your power to prevent it from sinking to the bottom of the ocean?
Olympic organizations allude "we are either with ... or against 'em."
This old school way of thinking is wrong. We are all in the same boat, but this time our Host community also holds the oars and if the IOC insists on playing the power card, it won't be hard to demonstrate they ... are actually with us. I prefer however to think there is common ground where everyone rows together and prospers proportionately.
You inherited this nightmare Mayor Robertson from your predecessor Sam Sullivan, and we know you're not directly responsible and may hesitate to jump into the breech and take on the giants, but I’ve managed a few corporate sponsorships in my day, and if you don’t know how to approach sponsors or what to say please don't hesitate to call me ... because I do.
Basically it goes like this;
Thanks to the power of social media,
if our community sinks,
sponsors will too.
The video below was taped two days
before the Beijing 2008 Olympics. It becomes even more relevant each passing day.
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1st printing no longer available at CHAPTERS locations in Vancouver
Own the Podium?
The official creed (guiding principle) of the Olympics is a quote by the
founding father of the modern day Games Baron de Coubertin. He said, "The
most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part,
just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle.
The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."
The Olympic motto consists of three Latin words Citius, Altius, Fortius,
which means, "Swifter, Higher, Stronger." The 1924 motto is meant to encourage
athletes to embrace the Olympic spirit and perform to the best of their
No where does it imply that winning the most gold medals for your country
is part of the agenda. In fact it implies exactly the opposite.
The IOC maintains that it doesn't actively encourage countries to collectively
win the most gold medals, but on the other hand they also don't institute
anything to ensure that the Games are not turned into corporate money
In fact, IOC sponsorship and partnership business models encourage a win-at-all-costs
mentality. It is the reason they have doping, fraud and bribery scandals.
The IOC invites young people to compete in the Olympics using the original
Creed & Motto. But when it comes to delivering on the promise they
fall incredibly short.
The Olympics today isn't as much about sport as it is about money and
Priorities changed over the years and so too should their Creed &
If athletes go for the gold, and the IOC goes for the gold, and corporate
sponsors go for the gold, and governments go for the gold, and considering
that you will have to foot the bill for their gold, why should
you be edged out of the race?
Move to the starting line.
Own the Podium?
Own Your Home?
Real journalism consists of
what someone doesn't want published,
all the rest is public relations." George Orwell