When everything seemed to be going wrong at the outset of the Vancouver Olympics, Canadians’ well-honed instinct for self-criticism was briefly overcome by our well-honed grievance complex. The British press was having a field day with the balmy temperatures, Cypress Mountain’s lack of snow and impassable spectator areas, a malfunctioning opening ceremonies set piece, the chain link fence around the flame and the tragic death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili.
Self-loathing is fine for Canadians. Recall the howls for recrimination over the design of the luge track, the unpadded beam with which Mr. Kumaritashvili made sickening contact, the limited practice runs for visiting teams. “Clearly, these Olympic Games cannot be called off,” Toronto Star journalist Chris Young wrote on day one of the Games. “But they surely can be written off.”
But when British journalists started churning out the doomsaying — the “gloomy Games,” “worst Games ever,” “Vancouver’s Olympics head for disaster” — well, that wouldn’t do. “Utter nonsense,” The Globe and Mail huffed. The Star insisted that the Berlin, Munich, Montreal and Atlanta games had clearly been worse, and dismissed critics as “cheap shot artists.”