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Olympic Spirit and the Coca-Cola Torch Relay

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.


This past week the so-called Olympic Torch Relay passed through Nova Scotia, and more importantly for me and this article, directly passed my home in Dartmouth, as it did for the 1988 Olympics in Calgary.  I remember standing on Waverly Rd for the ’88 relay as a 7 year old boy, so excited to see and maybe even touch the torch on its way to open the games.  I didn’t get to touch the torch that year but I ran beside it (within arms reach) for a few minutes, just long enough to see the flame and absorb its radiant energy into my sponge like childhood brain, hoping that someday that energy might carry me to the Olympics.  It did not.

As a 7 year old amateur sport enthusiast I watched every moment of the ‘88 games, or as much as physically possible, oozing excitement no matter what event was on the TV.  I watched subsequent Olympics with the same enthusiasm and aspired to be an Olympic athlete someday.  I guess you could say that, as a child, I was full of the Olympic spirit.  Unfortunately, my more recent memories of and thoughts about the Olympics and the Olympic spirit are far less positive. 

In 2002, 14 years after my first experience with the Torch Relay, I found myself spending Christmas in Lac Brome, Quebec, a short drive from where the Torch was passing through Vermont on its way to Salt Lake City.  Fourteen years is a long time, and like everything else in the world since 1989, the Torch Relay had been drastically altered (at least according to my childhood memories).  No longer was the relay about the Olympics, or instilling the Olympic Spirit into children so that they too might be inspired as I once was.  No, it was now about the almighty dollar and how best to make as much as possible from the Olympics via advertising.  Sponsors were now the main focus.  Not the athletes, not the Olympic flame, nor the Olympics themselves, not even the Olympic spirit was as important as ads and money.  These were my thoughts as I watched the Olympic flame pass by me in 2002 surrounded by Coca-Cola everything. 

I’m not saying that the first corporate sponsored Olympics wasn’t a money making opportunity for someone, it surely was, as they have been ever since.  I am merely pointing out the shift that is gradually taking place from celebrating amateur sports to celebrating sponsors and their ‘generosity’.  Unfortunately, this generosity is meant to ingrain, the sponge like minds of our youth with images of Coca-Cola, McDonalds, and Gatorade in the hands of our athletes, instead of medals and the spirit of amateur sports.  Medals are also good; Coke in one hand and a gold medal in the other is good advertising, no doubt. 

This brings me to my most recent experience with the Olympics, the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.  I was unfortunate enough to see and hear the Torch Relay 4 times this week.  I nearly lost my breakfast on my shoes when I first saw the massive display that Coke had created for this years torch relay.  In fact most people that saw me that day commented on the fact that I looked visibly upset.  I was.  I was watching a 106 day Coke Advertisement drive across Canada, twice.  Sound wasteful?  It probably is.

Of the 3 trucks taking part in the celebration/parade, none were Olympics related.  They were all gigantic driving Coke Ads following the Torch holder (the only Olympics related thing in the parade/relay).  The Coca-Cola volunteers in and around the trucks were not giving away anything related to the Olympics, just bottles of Coke and non-recyclable plastic flags (what happened to the biodegradable paper ones?) depicting the route the torch was supposed to take on its way to Vancouver.  Only they (Coke) forgot to show the Touch route passing through Nova Scotia.  It skips us all together.  They can't even get that right.  Other than the person holding the torch, there was no mention of the Olympics that I saw during the 'Coke Torch Relay'.  Only Coke ads.  So what kind of a relay is this?  What are we supposed to be celebrating?  Coca-Cola?  RBC?  McDonalds?

To say nothing of the 1000’s of homeless or poor people displaced from the streets and there homes in Vancouver to prepare for the games would be a serious injustice.  And it is not hard to see why those people in particular are angry and attempting to disrupt the games.  A small portion of the money used on the Olympics would have solved Vancouver’s homeless problem and made it a safer place to live.  Instead they made it worse.  To also ignore the legacy of debt these games will leave on the people of Vancouver would be equally wrong.  The tax payers of Vancouver and BC are on the hook for these games and they are expensive, even more so than the ’76 Olympics in Montreal, which just got paid off recently after 30 some odd years. 

Lastly, I would just like to comment on the misuse and poor selection of sponsors for the Olympics.  In my opinion, if you’re going to sponsor what most people consider the crowning achievement in amateur sports, you should in the very least be a healthy product for the human body to consume.  Does it not bother anyone that the main sponsor(s) of this event is are companies and product lines that are completely poisonous to the human body, and not 'used' or even considered by athletes until they require money to achieve there 'dream'.  They don't want the products which are useless, they just want the money.  I wish someone (government and corporation) would pay for me to accomplish my dreams.  Unfortunately my dreams aren't profitable for others, as amateur sport appears to be.  Give the money to the kids, let adults pay for there own dreams to come true, instead of our tax dollars.

On a side note, I would just like to thank the no less than 12 motorcycle riding police officers (there were others) it took to block my street and tell me I had to wait 20-30 minutes to get to my home just 10 seconds down the road.  "You'll have to park somewhere and walk, the torch is on its way." 

I would like to suggest that the Olympic Torch Relay be renamed to the Coca Cola Torch Relay. 

Adam Campbell

Dartmouth, NS


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1068 words


I am in FULL agreement




I am in full agreement with what you have said above.

Today I witness the Olympic torch lighting ceremony in Chestermere Alberta.

My girlfriend and I and her two young boys stood through an hour and 1/2 of a blatant and shameful live advertising campaign by Coke and RBC, not to mention other advertisements on a huge tv screen, until the Olympic torch runner finally arrived to light the caldron.

Today's MC talked of creating "a better world" but his sentiments rang hollow after we all witnessed this embarrassing corporate display.

Many children from throughout the Chestermere area were bussed in for this special Olympic torch lighting ceremony. Only to be handed "Coke" flags to wave and "RBC" tambourines to bang". It made my blood boil to watch such a sacred event turn into another corporate advertising event. 

I was ashamed to watch today's Olympic torch lighting ceremony. I was embarrassed to be a Canadian.

Part of the Olympic sprit died in me today. 

Thank you for stating what every Canadian should be talking about.

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