After months of advertising, sponsorship and the longest domestic torch relay in history, the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games opened on Friday. But amidst the LED bear puppets and Mephisto-esque dancing fiddlers, there was a sense of mourning and horror as the ceremonies came just hours after the first fatality on a luge track in 35 years.
This accident is just one incident in what many are calling the Cursed Olympics.
Firstly, Whistler, notorious for heavy snowfall and prime skiing conditions has seen record warm temperatures. Practices have been cancelled and events have been postponed as a result.
The Opening Ceremonies were loved by some, but lauded by others for playing into stereotypes, and spending millions of dollars to basically tell the world that Canada wasn’t America. After the 3-hour long show, the magic moment of lighting the torch failed miserably as the torch’s hydraulics failed, prompting several moments of awkwardness. Even Steve Nash was cringing.
Then came Canada’s moment to shine and the first hopes for gold in the form of Speed Skating. Only favoured racer Charles Hamelin didn’t even qualify.
So much for home ice advantage.
Of course the most awful turn of events came on Friday afternoon, when Georgian luge racer Nodar Kumaritashvili lost control during a training run and crashed into an unpadded steel post.
Game organizers and the FIL (International Luge Federation) have conceded that Kumaritashvili’s death was a result of human error, not the track. But that said, just 24-hours before the accident, Violeta Stramaturaru of Romania was knocked unconcious after a crash at Whistler Sliding Centre. Diagnosed with a concussion, she has withdrawn from the Olympics. As has one of Kumaritashvili’s teammates Levan Gureshidze. The Georgian flag bearer returned home, unable to participate under the tragic circumstances.
The Australian skeleton and sliding team, who were on the track when Kumaritashvili crashed, have been undergoing intense counselling from the the team’s psychologist.
There is undoubtedly an air of tragedy marring the games. While the opening ceremonies would have had us believe that this was an isolated incedent, many athletes “ and viewers “ are having difficulty believing it. Perhaps the above mentions are coincedence, and nothing more. Or as some more superstitious commentators are saying, perhaps these Olympics are in fact cursed.
Only time will tell.