Today’s Poll – Is Vancouver the Worst Olympics Ever?

I’ve heard a lot of criticism of this year’s Olympic games and can’t deny there have been issues. Being a Canadian, I’ve been quick to defend my country, but more recently I’ve decided to take a more objective look at the games. Here are some facts.

The death of the Georgian luger before opening ceremonies was tragic. Let’s leave the fact at that and any questions about the track’s speed and the Georgian’s inexperience to the experts. We may never know.

The hydraulics failure during the opening ceremonies was embarrassing. Despite what many thought was a moving ceremony, the focus seemed to be on the hydraulics failure that left one arm of the Olympic cauldron stuck in the ground.

There’s an ugly chain link fence surrounding the Olympic cauldron. Spectators would like to get closer for better pictures.

Bad weather has caused delays, cancellations, and dangerous conditions on some courses throughout the Olympics. Many are criticizing the IOC for picking a city with such mild winters.

Biathlon officials and organizers made several mistakes. They held some athletes too long and released some too early at the events starting line.

Now, before we start defending the games or dubbing them the worst ever, let’s take a quick look at some other Olympic disasters and see how they match up against Vancouver.

1972 Munich Summer Olympics – The Munich Massacre.  “Five Arab terrorists wearing track suits climbed the six and 1/2 foot fence surrounding the Olympic Village in Munich, Germany. Once inside, they were met by three others who had gained entrance with credentials. Within 24 hours, 11 Israelis, five terrorists, and a German policeman were dead” (Source). This is a brief synopsis. Please check out articles for more details.

1976 Montreal Summer Olympics –  “The Olympics were a financial disaster for Montreal, as the city faced debts for 30 years after the Games had finished. The Quebec provincial government took over construction when it became evident in 1975 that work had fallen far behind schedule; work was still under way just weeks before the opening date, and the tower was not built. Mayor Jean Drapeau had confidently predicted in 1970 that “the Olympics can no more have a deficit than a man can have a baby”, but the debt racked up to a billion dollars that the Quebec government mandated the city pay in full” (Source). On top of that, Canada, the host country, finished with five silver and six bronze medals. This was the first time that the host country of the Summer Games won no gold medals. At the time of writing this, Canada has 2 gold medals.

1976 Denver Winter Olympics – Didn’t know Denver hosted the Olympics? That’s because they didn’t. The games were originally awarded to Denver in May 1970, but a 300 percent rise in costs and worries about environmental impact led to Colorado voters’ rejection in November 7, 1972, by a 3 to 2 margin, of a $5 million bond issue to finance the games with public funds. The Olympics ended up being in Innsbruck, Austria.

1980 Moscow Summer Olympics – 65 Countries and regions took part in the US led boycott of the 1980 Olympic Games. With half the world not present, it hardly seems like an Olympics worth caring about.  For more info on the boycott click here.

1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics – “McDonald’s ran a promotion entitled “When the U.S. Wins, You Win” where customers scratched off a ticket and if the U.S. won that event then they would be given a free menu item: a Big Mac for a gold medal, an order of french fries for a silver medal, and a Coca-Cola for a bronze medal. The promotion became a near financial disaster due to the Soviet boycott which led to the U.S. winning far more Olympic medals than expected. This promotion was parodied in the The Simpsons episode where Krusty Burger runs a similar offer” (Source). This boycott was significantly smaller than the 1980 boycott, but it certainly eliminated some stiff competition for the US.

1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics – “The Atlanta Olympics were marred by the Centennial Olympic Park bombing on July 27. This bombing killed spectator Alice Hawthorne and wounded 111 others, and caused the death of Melih Uzunyol by heart attack.”

“A report prepared by European Olympic officials was critical of Atlanta’s performance in several key issues, including the level of crowding in the Olympic Village, the quality of available food, the accessibility and convenience of transportation, and the Games’ general atmosphere of commercialism. The opening ceremony, featuring 500 cheerleaders and 30 pickup trucks, was also “garish” by some observers and considered questionable in taste by many foreign visitors” (Source).

These are some of the Olympics tragedies and mishaps I’ve come across during my research. I’ve also noticed that small issues tend to be forgotten, but the large ones remain. It seems every snag during the Olympics raises the question, “Is this the worst Olympics ever?” Personally, I’m enjoying every minute of it and think people should stop being so pessimistic, but I thought I’d see what everyone else thought.

What has been the worst Olympics ever?

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If you’re having trouble voting, just post your vote in the comments section and I’ll add it manually.

  • RockinRuhul

    The most TRAGIC one would be in 1972, so please put a vote in for me!

    As for the 2010 olympics, i think they are doing the best they can. It’s not their fault that Vancouver is having crappy weather!! I found the opening ceremony to be beautiful and entertaining. However, I do feel that they misrespresented Canada in the opening ceremony. Canada is not all about aboriginals, it’s more than that. They should have included multiculturalism and diversity.

    I’m interested to see how the closing ceremony will turn out.

    Enjoy the olympics! GO CANADA GO!

  • Atlanta 1996 was a transportation nightmare in which athletes were late for their events and disqualified.

    Turin also had transport problems and doping scandals rocked Salt Lake City and Athens.

    Vancouver and BC had record snowfalls last year…I was there for most of it. This is the warmest year on record in Vancouver…Weather gods be damned. They really should have not picked Cypress for the events though…

  • Steve Capo

    As shitty as the weather has been during these olympics, i don’t think it can really compare to the death of 17 people during the 1972 olympics. these oylmpics may not be going perfectly, but as you’ve pointed out the olympics rarely goes unscathed. 28 years later the munich olympics is still a great tragedy… i have a hard time believing that people will refer to the vancouver olympics as “tragic”.

  • havenoheart

    I would have to go with the 1920 Antwerp , Belgium olympics. The TV and radio coveraged sucked and they wouldn’t allow athletes to tweet from the location. Even NBC and MSnbc didn’t carry them on TV, what’s up with that.

  • malackey

    I’m pretty sure that the murder of several athletes will always trump mechanical failure, and a luge crash.

  • @Irishboy33 Man, you know your Olympics. I wish people weren’t so quick to point out the negatives and would focus on the positives. I guess negatives make for better news stories though.

    @Steve Capo – It’s tragic Ryan Reynolds didn’t give Wayne Gretzky a piggyback ride up to the torch.

    @havenoheart – Way too funny. I can’t believe they weren’t allowed to Tweet. That’s far worse than any deaths.

    @malackey – Well, the Olympics aren’t over yet. I’m thinking a mechanical failure will cause the scoreboard to crush the Belarusian Hockey team after they miraculously beat Canada in the Gold medal game.

  • These Olympics have been fantastic. So there have been a few glitches. No major event is flawless. It’s been pretty dramatic and awesome all around.

  • Anonymous

    The Munich games actually solidified nations at the time of the cold war in a way that had not been done before to my memory.

    Its a pity that overtime that has been lost and only seen as a tragedy.

    The two boycotts were the worst for me a time when the olympics were just another pawn in the cold war. Often athletes used to the detriment of their long term health. The boycott was also significant in the Los Angeles one too in terms of the number of top athletes who didnt participate and in the number of countries that emerged from the old warsaw pact once it broke apart.

    • @Anon – My research was less than thorough so I’m more than happy to learn more about Olympic history. Thanks for the feedback.

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