February 11th, 2010
10:44 PM ET

Will Vancouver Olympics be better than Beijing?

So, after months of anticipation, here we are… in Vancouver on the cusp of another Olympic Games. Well, another one for me after losing my Olympic “virginity” reporting from Beijing in 2008.

Olympic rings light the Vancouver harbour while fear mounts that increased security will strangle the spirit of the games.
Olympic rings light the Vancouver harbour while fear mounts that increased security will strangle the spirit of the games.

Already, I’m running down a mental checklist, comparing the two cities. Difficult because they are in two, very different countries and the Winter and Summer Games are very different events.

For a start, only around 80 nations will compete here in Vancouver, compared to 204 in Beijing. No surprise then that flying in to Canada was a lot quieter than arriving in China a year and a half ago.

I landed only slightly later than I’d taken off from London Heathrow – the eight hour time difference almost cancelling out the nine and a half hour flight. It was a lively journey, with plenty of Olympic-bound passengers crammed alongside me in economy.

Many were wearing team colours – Italy, Norway and Russia, to name a few – although it was hard to tell which were competitors and which were coaches, support staff or simply fans! Most were wandering around the cabin, excitedly talking to each other about what to expect.

At Vancouver airport, there was a separate passport control for those of us with official Olympic accreditation. I didn’t have to queue very long. In contrast, Beijing airport had been absolutely manic. The company I worked for then provided a private driver and I was glad of it.

Here in Vancouver, I used a media shuttle bus, laid on by the organisers. The bus driver wasn’t local and I ended up guiding him using a map application on my mobile phone. This is my first time in the city too!

At Beijing ‘08, the airport staff had been so amazed to see an official Olympic accreditation that they insisted on having their picture taken with it. This time, there was less wonderment but just as much friendliness.

Although I believe the Chinese laid on a good Olympic Games eighteen months ago, it was sad to see what happened on the night of the opening ceremony. Thousands of people travelled to the capital even though they had no tickets, or much money.

They were so proud that their country was hosting such a prestigious world event and yet police blocked their path and forced them down side streets with no view of the Bird’s Nest stadium

Vancouver has spent far more on security than it originally planned. I only hope this isn’t a sign that they will try to overly orchestrate these Olympics too. That can suffocate the very spirit which makes the games so unique.

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Filed under:  2010 Winter Games
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Khan

    I've always been more of a fan of the Winter Olympics. The skiers/snowboarders hurtling down the mountain at 40+ mph. That or flying into the air 10+ feet, while twisting, turning, flipping, etc.

    I think majority of the public go for the Summer Olympics. I'm not even seeing much news about the Winter Olympics.

    February 12, 2010 at 12:03 am | Reply
  2. Anna

    I love the Olympics. I'm not a big sports fan, but when the Olympics come on I'm practically glued to my tv. The spirit of the whole competition really sets it apart. I can't wait to watch the opening ceremonies tonight!

    February 12, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Reply
  3. Scott

    It's almost not fair to compare summer and winter olympics since the winter olympics are a much smaller production. It's not just fewer countries – it's also fewer althletes from those countries & I don't think even 1/3 of the events of the summer games.

    February 12, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Reply
  4. USMC

    There will never be a more awesome olympics as Beijing ever again. No country in the world can invest in that much cash for a world event... Unless there was going to be another olympics in China

    February 13, 2010 at 1:07 am | Reply
  5. Pedro

    The Olympics is a double edged sword for us in Vancouver. Politically, it's a nightmare. Sure, we want to do well and show the world what a beautiful place we live in. The games... the only gold we REALLY care about is in hockey. Hopefully you will enjoy the games. Best of luck to you and your nation, wherever you're from.

    February 13, 2010 at 3:07 am | Reply
  6. Marie

    I'm a Winter Olympics fan too.🙂 The events are just more interesting to me–speed skating, figure skating, skiing/snowboarding, etc are all fascinating and nervewracking to watch. It is a shame they don't get as much coverage as the Summer Games, although I suppose it's not a surprise as it *is* a much smaller, younger event with fewer participating countries.

    February 13, 2010 at 7:09 am | Reply
  7. frances Edens

    I hope all goes well for Canada from here on. The opening was one of the most beautiful and classy ones I have seen in a long time. Good Luck to Canada.

    February 13, 2010 at 8:03 am | Reply
  8. J GEE

    I think Canada did a fantastic job. They did not try to compete with China's opening ceremony, but showed what Canada was all about. It was classy, inspiring, inclusive and beautifuI. I loved it. Good Job neighbors to our north.

    February 13, 2010 at 9:42 am | Reply
  9. SallyfromMontreal

    Being from Canada I have always preferred the Winter Olympics more than the Summer (I guess it is all of the snow haha). Though, both are equally enjoyable and the talent is not to be compared either.

    I found the ceremony to be quite fantastic and was very proud to know that the show was broadcasted in both of our official languages. The performances by the Natives and by having a more Native theme was great and I think it showed the rest of the world how diverse our country really is.

    I can not say if the Vancouver games will be better then Beijing; I can say though that both countries are very proud to be able to host such a wonderful event and I hope the Olympic spirit lasts for the duration and even once the games are long and gone.

    February 13, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Reply
  10. dmm

    if the beautiful opening ceremony is anything to judge by, the Vancouver2010 Olympics will hold its own against the amazing Summer Olympics in Beijing.

    February 13, 2010 at 7:34 pm | Reply
  11. Art O'Neill

    I was shocked by the lengths that CNN would go to get their ratings up by any means whatsoever. I did not need to see how the olympic hopefull Kumaritashvili died on that tragic luge accident.
    I urge you to stop showing scenes like that in the future for the sake of humanity.

    February 13, 2010 at 10:17 pm | Reply
  12. Genie Pressney

    Hi There,

    In reading you commemts on the Olympics 2010 that are being held in Vancouver British Columbia, which I might add is one of the most beautiful Cities and Provinces in the World (you forgot to mention anything about it).

    If we have spent far more on security than we had originally intended, then you should feel a lot safer, not feel you have the right to wonder if we have spent too much, it is none of your business anyway, I also do not think anyone can accuse us of overly orchestrating anything at anytime, ever. ie. Expo in British Columbia was very successful, also the Fireworks which is put on every year with other countries involved in the Competition.

    Please do not compare our way of doing things to any onther country, we like to do our own thing rightly or wrongly, and we usually do it well, with class.

    In saying the above I hope, you have a wonderful time in our beautiful city, you are very welcome, please take time to enjoy it all, there is a lot to see.

    Best wishes

    Genie

    February 13, 2010 at 10:35 pm | Reply
  13. Aine

    well the opening ceremony for the 2008 summer olympics in beijing was spectacular , and the vancouver opening ceremony was great as well. still I think i would go for the beijing summer olympics,I mean the event was a blast. but the vancouver games is just starting, and i can't wait to see what will next in the 2010 olympic games!!!!!! rock on Mao Asada!!!

    February 14, 2010 at 11:30 am | Reply
  14. Heather Hoffman

    The Olympics hold some of the greatest amount of popularity around the world so I have no reason to doubt how large the anticipation is to report on the games. It is interesting to watch the sports take place in many different countries so I can relate to how you are comparing the two cities and the dynamics that relate to each place. I agree with the security aspect you brought up. I feel if the security tries to be an overbearing control on the games, the games will loose spirit like you pointed out. People are able to express their joy for their country but that can be obtained with a reasonable amount of security. It was interesting to read the stories from your airport experiences and driving. I have always wondered how the athletes and coaches act towards each other. One day they are laughing and joking around with each other about how the games are going to finish and the next day its blood, sweat, and determination as the athletes compete. But if you look at reality, they are all human beings putting forth their best efforts. It will be exciting to see where the games are going to progress.

    February 15, 2010 at 3:17 am | Reply
  15. PooPoo

    NO ONE WOULD EVER DO BETTER THAN CHINA!

    February 16, 2010 at 3:34 am | Reply
  16. krishna

    it is a honor to my country india that our flim star amitab bachan had given oppurtunity to hold the mashal of olympic 2012 and i can confidently say that our country will win lots of gold madals and trophys and at end i would like to tell all the best to indian players.

    July 27, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Reply

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