Thursday, February 11, 2010

Olympic torch relay in Vancouver

The torch relays I blogged in Bangkok (photo left) and Jakarta prior to the Beijing Olympics were notable partly as naked expressions of Chinese nationalism, jarring to many foreigners in the aftermath of the Chinese crackdown against ethnic Tibetans.

The torch run for the Vancouver Olympics which had spanned the country and reached the Vancouver  metropolitan area only today, was notable for the efforts of Olympic sponsors to fuse Canadian nationalism with corporate brand identity. The noisy maple-leaf covered vehicles of two corporate sponsors preceded the torch runners (photo right). At a rally at the end of the course route, a strange ceremony unfolded in which a screaming MC urged spectators to cheer the Canadian team and -- in the same breath -- patronize Coca Cola. 

Attendance along the relay route was large, and the crowd's support for the torch runners was intense.   In response to the cheers, runners waved and smiled.

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