Commentary  Citius, deterius, fortius

Olympic fever is picking up, and it’s astonishing how many large Canadian institutions carry the official stamp of the Games, from Canada Post to Coca Cola and Vitamin Water, to RBC.

When a media group like CanWest Publications – owner of the majority of Canada’s English-language daily newspapers and major television stations, including the Montreal Gazette – pays to become a partner with VANOC, the Olympic organizing committee, they isolate the Games from criticism. CanWest’s deal gives the company’s regional papers the right to print promotional material for the Games, along with splashing the five-ring logo across their front pages.

CanWest’s president Dennis Skulky claims that the company’s deal will not affect the papers’ editorial content. But it’s hard to imagine papers like the Gazette criticizing an event they advertise on page one. This partnership is a statement that the Olympics are beyond politics, that they belong in a neutral zone and can be endorsed without compromising journalistic integrity.

This is shocking considering the amount of resources involved in mounting the Games, the amount of money, personnel, and raw materials they mobilize, and the decisions they bring about that dramatically affect people’s lives.

How can something be apolitical when it costs taxpayers an estimated $580 million? How can something be apolitical when it causes people to be displaced from their homes, increases human trafficking, and leads to the criminalization of homelessness, the closing of safe injection sites, and the commodification of indigenous rights?
We urge readers to continue to consider the political context of the Games in the following weeks, and look forward to student voices debating it within our pages.