Not content to mop the floor at the Summer Games, the Aussies appear to be getting serious about the Winters—lack of indigenous snow notwithstanding (I’m told there are ski hills in Oz, but let’s be serious; 99 per cent of Australians who ski live and work in Lake Louise). The government is building a Aus$58-million ice palace in Melbourne in hopes of qualifying as many athletes as possible for the 2010 Games. A few days ago, Canberra announced it would direct another $12.6 million toward high-performance programs and athlete support for the Winter Olympics and the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
You can also expect Australia to borrow what it can’t grow at home. They’ve already taken Dale Begg-Smith, a Vancouverite who won gold in freestyle moguls in 2006. Begg-Smith, pictured above, parted company with the Canadian team after his coaches got testy about how much time he spent on an Internet startup. Now, both the web company and Begg-Smith are smashing successes. Let’s hope the Aussies don’t decide to get into hockey and steal Sidney Crosby.
• On an unrelated note, here’s an interesting piece by my friend Stew Bell at the National Post about fears of a “lone wolf” terrorism attack at the Games. You wonder whether $400 million worth of security can protect the event from this sort of thing. The more practical part of the report, in my view, appears lower in Stewart’s story, where the authorities worry about “extremist elements” who have publicly stated “their intent to continue acts of protest and possible violence” against the Games and their corporate sponsors. Read: “antiglobalists.”
Fearless prediction: the cops in Canada will try to “contain” protests the way they do during APEC or G8 summits, providing farcical “designated” areas where demonstrators can mug for media attention while being roundly ignored by the rest of the world. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it turns protests into rock-chucking fests.