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I don't usually gamble, mostly due to lack of skill and knowledge of the odds, but when it comes to the Olympics I’d bet on practically everything on the horizon. Why? Because predicting future Olympic outcomes are less about chance than sound empiricism.
My statistical abilities have in fact been particularly acute about Vancouver's 2010 Winter Games, now just over three weeks from the opening ceremonies. So here are a few of my predictions for February’s circus, one for each day:
1. The weather will remain wet and nasty, truly earning Vancouver its reputation as the "wet coast". Tourists and local Oly boosters crammed into the so-called celebratory sites will enjoy the participatory sports of puddle jumping and dancing between the raindrops. The only snow on the ski hills will have to be moved in from higher elevations at –guess what?- more costs to the rest of us. Those trying hard to celebrate the circus will quickly grow moldy and conclude that future trips to Vancouver in February are not wise.
2. VANOC’s opening ceremony will try to riff off Valentine’s Day just two days later with a program highlighting just how much Vancouver loves the world and vice versa. Cynics will point out that love and getting screwed up the yingyang are not necessarily synonymous. Taxpayers will be told by Finance Minister Colin Hansen to “just lie back and think of the Queen.”
3. Tourists will discover just how much fun crossing into Canada and back can be. The border with our American cousins will be a 24/7 nightmare in both directions: Homeland Security will be off-the-wall paranoid about those entering the States, suspecting hidden Mexicans in every car trunk; the Canadian Border Service will match them nut for nut by interrogating every foreign journalist to see if they intend to ask pesky questions about the Olympics, poverty, dissent, the exchange rate on the Loonie, what folks think of Stephen Harper, or just about anything else their feral minds can think of. If you can’t sing “Owe Canada” in both official languages, you ain’t getting in, and that’s that.
4. The RCMP might not taser anyone to death, but if so it will indeed be luck, not policy, and God help you if Canadian English is not your first language (so Americans civilians especially beware). Remember that the RCMP's motto, roughly translated from the Latin, is: Taser primoris, scisco laxus ("Taser first, ask later”).
5. It will be best to not even try imagining what a freak show the airport will be. You really, really don’t want to know. And, it will be closed for the evening of the 12th, opening ceremonies eve, so enjoy your $200 cab ride from Abbotsford.
6. Traffic will be over-the-top insane in the city (and Lower Mainland) as tourists vie for limited space on overcrowded buses and the Skytrain with frustrated locals who are only trying to get to their day jobs (or take their kids to the dentist, or meet a friend...or do anything during these two months of mayhem resembling having a normal life.) All the buskers in the world won't make for happy locals who will wind up waiting for their normal buses for hours. Kids will ask their dyspeptic mothers, "Mommy is that the Queen driving by in the limo while we wait in the rain?” only to be told, "No, sweetie, that's John Furlong in drag hiding from protesters."
7. Those who try to drive will discover what 24-hour long gridlock looks like with the endless street closures and special "Olympic lanes" on all major routes. (“We have Manhattan’s traffic; it means we’re a “world class” city, Honey! Woohoo, go Canuks, go!).