Worst Olympics in history?

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The British press has said the Vancouver Winter Olympics are on pace to be the worst in Olympic history. How do people in Vancouver feel about that? We speak with Daphne Branham, a columnist with the Vancouver Sun.

MARCO WERMAN: I'm Marco Werman and this is The World. Here's how one headline in a British newspaper read ?Vancouver Games Continue Downhill Slide from Disaster to Calamity.? The article said unfolding events are threatening to make these games the worst in Olympic history. We might point out here that London will host the 2012 Olympics and so that paper may not be completely impartial. Daphne Branham is a columnist with the Vancouver Sun. She says calling the Vancouver Games the worst Olympics ever is overkill.

DAPHNE BRANHAM: Every Game has some problems. There were obviously some problems at the beginning of these Olympics but worst Olympics ever? I mean heavens; there have been many much worse than this. Atlantic had huge bus problems, people couldn't get to events. In Athens, they didn't have any spectators so no, this is not the worst Olympics by a long, long margin.

WERMAN: So you say it's far from being the worst Olympics. Would you say it is a good Olympics though?

BRANHAM: Absolutely. I spoke to an Estonian Alpine coach yesterday, an American, and he said that he's been to three or four Olympics and he said this was the best one he's been to. He said it's, you know, the transportation works, the venues are beautiful. He said it's a great place. That's what we're hearing when you walk around in the streets. People think it's fabulous.

WERMAN: So why do you think some people are picking on BC?

BRANHAM: You know it's hard to know why the British press in particular has been so negative. There's part of me that thinks that they looked at other Olympics and thought gee, maybe we shouldn't be doing this and so maybe there's a bit of that and of course, up here we had the tragedy before the opening ceremonies of the young Georgian luger dying. That alone put a pall on the opening ceremonies and the beginning of the games. The other thing, the weather was not very good. The other thing is I think there is a slight amount of hubris in British Columbia in particular. We, a few years ago, decided to put on the license plates British Columbia, the best place on earth and I think that's a little bit of hubris and makes certainly Canadians like me a little bit uncomfortable. We prefer to be the people saying sorry and one of our Olympians, one of our gold medalists, John Montgomery, he apologized for being too happy about winning and I think that's more what people expect from Canada. So I think, you know, some of it is that Canadians, we're acting somewhat differently than we had in the past with things like Own the Podium which was the program ?

WERMAN: Yeah, I was going to, I mean the Own the Podium kind of concept was to basically, you know, the Canadian team said we're going to dominate this year, we're going to completely dominate and did Canada really think they were going to literally own the podium in these games?

BRANHAM: I think there were people who wanted to believe that and certainly, you know, if you look at the people who should have medaled and came forth, had they done as they had been expected to do, we probably would be much, we'd be much closer to the United States than we are. Own the Podium and one of the problems in Canada is that we really haven't supported our mature athletes in a way that other nations have. We certainly don't put as much money into athletic programs as the United States does through both its college scholarship programs, as well as supporting athletes who are the elite athletes. We aren't anywhere near to countries like some of the former Soviet block countries and so this was Canada's way of saying you know what? We're not going to be embarrassed on Canadian soil. We would like to win.

WERMAN: Daphne Branham, a columnist with the Vancouver Sun. Thanks so much for your time, Daphne.

BRANHAM: You're very welcome.

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