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 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!).
8. The Integrated Security Unit (ISU) will demonstrate their adept mimicry of the Keystone Cops by overreacting to everything from stalled cars to demonstrators with placards. The first should involve tow trucks, the latter common sense (no, Virginia, not the riot squad), but trust ISU to get this backwards. Dodging "skip rounds" (the projectiles fired from ARWEN guns designed to bounce on the pavement to hit protesters in the legs (or three-year-olds in the face)) will be touted as an "Olympic demonstration sport." Tear gas or pepper spray with your McDonald's fries will cost you extra.
9. The preventative arrests of some Olympic dissidents will trigger some minor media interest. ISU chief, Bud Mercer, will go on record denouncing those arrested as "total ingrates" saying, "What's the matter with these people? They get a warm place to bunk with their professional protester pals for three weeks, baloney sandwiches three times a day, and it's all on the Crown's tab. Whine, whine, whine, nothing is every perfect with these losers!"
10. The City of Vancouver's enforcement of the street signage bylaw will take a really fundamentally stupid idea and turn it into a complete donnybrook as city bylaw inspectors try to take away protest signs from dissidents and cans of Pepsi from those not in synch with VANOC/IOC marketing strategies. Proctologists in both major hospitals in the city will be on overtime, busy removing sticks and cans, as well as the odd Wendy's burger, from the rectums of said inspectors who will have ignored warnings to, "Leave me alone you putz or I'm gonna stick this can where the sun don't shine."
11. Pesky anti-Olympic activists will paralyze the city through the sheer effrontery of exercising their civil rights. City Councilors and members of the BC Liberal caucus will denounce the "terrorism and mayhem in our streets". Councilor Geoff Meggs will go on record as suggesting that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was only intended as a "theoretical, not a practical" description of our liberties.
12. Mayor Gregor Robertson will continue to look vaguely confused at all times, especially while posing for photo ops with dignitaries. The City Manger, Penny Ballem, will frequently have to kick his shins to keep him from launching into monologues about the good old days growing fruit.
13. Tens of thousands of Vancouverites who had the sense to flee the Olympic madness for beaches in Mexico and the Caribbean will toast the increasingly desperate attempt by Canadian athletes to "own the podium." By the third Margarita of the evening, most won't care that the Canadian mens' hockey team, jinxed by the malevolent spirit of Jack Poole, has been sidelined by the come-from-behind Nepalese. By drink number four, most won't know or much care what a podium is either.
14. Someone will let skunks loose in BC place during the opening ceremonies. As fans flee and skunk smell permeates the downtown, those wet souls in the celebratory zones will ask what on earth that awful odor is. Olympic Resistance Network activists on the streets will simply smile and say, "We told you the whole thing stank to high heaven."
15. American police and soldiers will strut around Vancouver like they own the place- which they sort of do -- all the while pretending to be native Canuks. Only their casual use of the word "bubba" and the misuse of "eh" will give them away. (As in, "Hey, Bubba, that's some right wet weather we're having, eh?")
16. The Conservative government will claim credit for every gold medal won by Canadians while blaming the opposition (sic) for every loss of the same. However, since there is no Parliament until March thanks to our prime minister, and thus no Question Period, no one will notice.
17. Something will blow up. ISU will suspect a fertilizer bomb. Some will think it is a "false flag" incident. Those in the know will realize it is only Gordon Campbell's ego undergoing an uncontrolled implosion as most of the population of B.C. realizes that "Our time to shine" is really, "Our time to pay the bills...for years."
Lastly, not on my list but as likely as the sunrise, when it is all over, the homeless will still be living in the rain...and three levels of government still won't care.
That's not a prediction, that's a guarantee. And it's not even vaguely funny.
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