I walked out of my hotel room in Vancouver this morning to see a flock of seagulls squacking their heads off. That’s the most noise I’ve heard since I arrived in Canada. Toto, we’re not in Beijing anymore. In 2008, with the Olympic Games a week and a half away, the city was buzzing with anticipation and chaotic with last minute preparations. Thousands of people were planting flowers, cleaning up and security was fierce. Here in Vancouver it is so calm and low key you hardly know it will soon be the center of the universe. There are some banners, new buildings and infrastructure improvements but you don’t sense that Canada’s place in the world hangs on these games. I’ve been asking around and people tell me that’s just how it is in British Columbia. People are pretty relaxed and take things in stride. Even the security is laid back. Police greet you with friendly smiles. Maybe it’s because there aren’t that many media, athletes or guests here yet, or maybe folks are being polite and deferential to those who felt the money could be better spent. Or maybe it’s just that the only thing Canadians get really worked up about is sport. As one young woman told me, “I’ll get excited for the men’s hockey.”
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