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Apologies for the Olympics and Paralympics

While the 2010 Winter Olympics Closing Ceremonies was an embarrassing mess, the 2010 Paralympics Opening Ceremonies on Friday night was a tasteful affair that tugged at heartstrings.

Betty and Rolly Fox, parents of Terry Fox, carry the torch into opening ceremonies for the 2010 Paralympic Games.

In the two weeks since the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics ended, city crews have picked up the garbage, and rain has washed the alleys clean. But one strong stench lingers: the Closing Ceremonies. What should have been an inspiring final impression of Vancouver to the world was an embarrassing mess, unbefitting the newfound patriotism of our country.

The lone bright spot of the night came early, with Neil Young warbling “Long May You Run.” From there, the ceremonies devolved into clichés: William Shatner rehashed his tired routine from the Molson beer ads, the always-milquetoast Michael Bublé sang before a cadre of inflatable beavers, and SCTV-alumni Catherine O’Hara gave an inexcusably unfunny monologue on the Canadian tendency to over-apologize.

Equally uncomfortable were John Furlong butchering the French language for over ten minutes, Avril Lavigne singing the wildly inappropriate “Girlfriend,” and the blatantly lip-synched performances by Alanis Morissette and K-os. (No surprise, NBC aired a mercifully truncated version of the ceremonies, knowing American audiences would be frantically clicking over to Desperate Housewives.)

On the flip side, the 2010 Winter Paralympics Opening Ceremonies on Friday night was a tasteful affair that tugged at heartstrings. The cauldron was lit by 15-year old snowboarder (and amputee) Zach Beaumont, there were video tributes to Terry Fox and Rick Hansen, and disabled break-dancer Luca "Lazylegz" Patuelli brought the capacity-crowd at BC Place to its feet.  The national anthem was sung by former paralympic athlete Terry Kelly and performed in sign language by White Rock's Mari Klassen.  

Still, CTV chose to broadcast live the Opening Ceremonies only in B.C., leaving the rest of the country to watch a rebroadcast on Saturday afternoon. Televised coverage of the Games themselves will also be limited: CTV and its affiliates had more than 2,200 hours of coverage during the Olympics, but the Paralympics has been allotted a mere 27 hours in English. And the only live broadcasts will be of sledge hockey games involving Canada.

Surely the Olympic Closing Ceremonies and Paralympic Games deserved better fates than this.

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