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Will London be as British as Vancouver is Canadian?

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Ollie Williams | 18:42 UK time, Saturday, 27 February 2010

It is hard to convey just how Canadian these Winter Games have been.

Multi-Olympic veterans to whom I've spoken are in awe of it. Even Canadians seem occasionally taken aback. Vancouver is a city painted red and white, partying long and loud into every night on the crest of a wave of national fervour. Each gold medal is a new excuse for Canada to celebrate the fact of its existence.

I have sat and watched as floods of fans transformed empty venues into a seething mass of maple leaves - nowhere more so than the Olympic ice hockey arena, Canada Hockey Place, for the women's gold medal game on Thursday.

Enclosed arenas amplify noise at the best of times, and the crescendo as the Canadian team took to the ice must have made the home team feel 100ft tall. It is hard to recall one fan who did not turn up in national colours.

That has been replicated at every venue, in every event, and out on the streets no matter the day of the week. Is that simply what happens to Olympic host cities, or has this been a peculiarly Canadian phenomenon? Will London 2012 feel like this?

Canadian fansCanadian supporters raise the roof for their women's hockey team. Photo: Getty Images

Any public place in Canada is operating beyond fever pitch as these Games slowly reach a close. On one occasion, we were treated to impromptu renditions of the Canadian national anthem three times in one cacophonously patriotic half-hour.

Queues of Canadian fans waiting to get into venues exhibit similar characteristics. Anywhere a crowd of more than four or five gathers, it is not long before chants of "Go! Canada! Go!" are struck up, to the ringing of cowbells and honking of passing horns.

"The most important thing is the enthusiasm of the people," said International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge earlier in the week. "I have never seen a city embrace the Games in this way."

Team GB chef de mission Andy Hunt added: "All of us have been totally amazed by the way the Canadian nation has been absolutely entwined with these Games. The challenge for us now is to make sure the home team is really at the centre of the London 2012."

And therein lies a critical difference. The Canadian national sport is ice hockey, and there was never any doubt that the home hockey teams would be front and centre of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games. Every second Canadian on the streets is wearing a hockey jersey - the other is wearing the Canadian flag as a cape.

The women's team have already made themselves heroes and the entire nation will stop what it is doing, don the national colours and watch, impatiently, when the men take to the ice in Sunday's final. Canadians will wait for the chance, the right, to celebrate their status as the finest hockey nation in the world.

This is a country so secure in its patriotism, so comfortable with its international reputation for "nice", that when the American women appeared close to tears collecting their silver medals, Canadian fans thundered "U-S-A! U-S-A!" in sympathy. (Would English football fans do that for players from a rival team?)

Whether it's as easy to be secure in feeling British is a different question - one you could write books on, let alone an Olympic blog. But Britain as a sports team has always felt like a tricky concept for much of its population to grasp.

Britain's constituent nations play the sports about which they are most passionate as separate entities - England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Football would be the British equivalent to ice hockey in Canada, but how many people are fans of British football? Type "Team GB" into a search engine and on the first page of results you will find a website dedicated to opposing a British football team at London 2012.

Fans of football, cricket and rugby, which many British people would list first if asked to name sports they follow, are English, Scottish, Northern Irish and Welsh. They are unlikely to identify themselves, first and foremost, as British when it comes to sport.

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Among British sports fans you find some of the most passionate supporters in the world. Think of the Scottish football team's Tartan Army, or the English cricket team's Barmy Army. And British fans will go nuts for any successful GB athlete and back them all the way to the podium.

But the way that manifests itself may look very different to the enthusiasm for the act of being Canadian which home supporters here exhibit.

You might argue it will be success in the events themselves which inspires the public, but that hasn't seemed the case here. On the first night of the Games, drenched at the foot of Cypress Mountain in the wake of moguls skier Jenn Heil's failure to secure gold for Canada, her legions of supporters were as vocal and boisterously Canadian as those victorious fans at the women's hockey.

For Canada, it feels as though the entire Games has been an outlet for a national consciousness in existence for many, many decades. The raw, patriotic energy was there, and the Winter Olympics simply channelled it to spectacular ends.

Does the challenge for London 2012 organisers lie in channelling the patriotism of individual nations into that British team, or in generating that patriotism in the first place?

Will Trafalgar Square become a living, breathing carpet of red, white, and blue, or will the London Games be an entirely different affair? Will being British at London 2012 feel like being Canadian at Vancouver 2010? And is it necessarily bad if it doesn't? I'm looking forward to finding out.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Nice blog. One small correction - hockey is not the national sport. Lacrosse has traditionally been the national sport, until 1994 - now it's the "summer" sport and hockey is the "winter" sport (so a shared title).

  • Comment number 2.

    Thank you for this lovely commentary. As a Canuck living thousands of miles from the Olympics, I've felt a part of the action simply by watching online; excitement by association. I couldn't express my pride any better than the way you've captured the essence of what Vancouver's accomplished. Congrats to everyone involved...especially to all the athletes and those people and organizations that made their participation possible. Well done...and GO, CANADA, GO!

  • Comment number 3.

    Brilliant support from the people of Vancouver. If Londener's are as passionate about the upcoming summer olympic than it will be a fantastic spectacle.

  • Comment number 4.

    As a Canadian and having heard of so much negative press from Great Britain regarding our Olympic games, it is refreshing to read something so positive here at the BBC. My wish, as I am sure would be the wish of all Canadians, is that Great Britain will embrace this new phenomenon of national pride and be excited to host a successful summer games in 2012. The games are really about the athletes and recognizing their extraordinary efforts and achievements. Don't worry about all the chest-thumping and flag waving. Much of that is spontaneous and it will come, if it is meant to. It is more important to cheer on the efforts of the athletes, regardless of where they hail from.

    There is a TV commercial airing with these games about a Canadian x-country skier at a previous winter games who broke a pole and a Norwegian coach loaned her his pole to finish the race. We Canadians thanked that Norway with maple syrup; five tonnes of it. :o) We are proud to be known by people like Stephen Colbert as "syrup-sucking ice-holes."

  • Comment number 5.

    Nice blog Ollie. Nice to see someone in the British media liking what's going on here!

    And yes, hockey IS the national sport. Some numpty politician might have made lacrosse an official national sport a few decades ago in a fit of PCism and as a sop to the First Nations people, but it ranks behind hockey (and curling, baseball, football, soccer, and basketball) in terms of popularity as a team sport in this country.

  • Comment number 6.

    Personally I don't want especially to see London whipped up into patriotic fervour because we in Britain seem to have lost the art of patriotism. It seems to veer wildly between self-flagellation" oh isn't this country awful, it's going to the dogs, I'm going to emigrate" to a bizarre kind of triumphal jingoism. What I'd absolutely love to see is everyone getting behind the Games and for Brits to shed this whiney cynicism they have developed into an art form in the last few years. I want the press to get behind the Games, and to not have the likes of the Mail leaping into a self-righteous frenzy should something go wrong. I want to see us welcome everyone to the country and for the venues to be buzzing with every seat taken. I'd like to see all our competitors supported, but all other athletes cheered and applauded as well. I'd like to see our winners celebrated and feted but - not to a ridiculous degree, but with good grace and sportsmanship. Great weather and flawless organisation will of course help!

    I don't see why it shouldn't happen. The Manchester Commonwealth Games, the Rugby World Cup in 99 and Euro 96 are three examples of fairly recent events which we have done very well. But I'm already dreading the negativity of the press - they seem to have had an increasing amount of influence in the last few years.

  • Comment number 7.

    I think one of Ollie's last questions is the most interesting: 'Is it necessarily bad if it (London's Olympics) doesn't (take Canada's lead)?'

    Shouldn't the Olympics be about celebrating all the nations coming together to compete? Should it be a big show of patriotism of the host country or should it be a many-flagged spectacle, showing appreciation for amazing, talented athletes?

    I know the Olympics are now fairly money-driven in lots of ways, but I hope it's not all about 'owning the podium' (badly-named Canadian programme to 'encourage' Canadian Olympian athletes)? I'm a Canadian living in the UK, and am proud of all Canadian athletes, whether they end up on the podium or not. They're amazing athletes to get to the Olympics.

  • Comment number 8.

    Regarding the Canadian 'Own The Podium' effort:

    "I have a very low threshold for jingoism. So I found it fascinating to read about the negative reactions to 'Own The Podium'. To this native-born Canuck, I find the moniker neither arrogant nor offensive. The goal in the Olympics is to WIN. To celebrate great sportsmanship, yes. But these are athletic endeavours we're talking about here, and the last time I competed in sports, I kindasorta remember the goal being to WIN. To display generosity and courage and determination...towards the goal of WINNING. There is nothing to apologize for in 'Own The Podium'. (But so very typical that so many Canadians would be so quick to apologize.) If we want the results, if we want to be proud of our Olympic athletes every two years, then we need to invest in our athletic representatives. They deserve our full support as they strive to do precisely what the program's title declares." (My thoughts, as noted elsewhere.)

  • Comment number 9.

    All that flag waving patriotism is pathetic. The less real confidence people have, the less actual autonomy nations have, the more they get into flags. The Olympics should be about welcoming the world, not flogging your own nation. Then it becomes an obligation --people feel they are supposed to do all that nationalist crap or they won't be accepted. That's the truth whether people want to see it or not.

  • Comment number 10.

    Having lived in Montreal in 76 for the Summer Games, I remember how alive the city was then. The atmosphere was tremendous and it doesn't surprise me that Vancouver has even out done that year. After the las summer games I know that there was a great disappointment with the Canadian results and now they are making up for it.

    If London wants to get in the mood we need to throw away some of our reserve and get with it. We need to show the world what great hosts we can be and make the world feel welcome. It should be just one great big street party.

    I would urge you to go to the events, I did in Montreal, and the experience will stay with you for your lifetime as it did for me. I went to the opening and closing ceremonies and they were such emotional events.

    Next it will be our turn to be hosts, and it will be up to everyone here to do their bit.

  • Comment number 11.

    In a word, No.

    The amount of money being stripped away from sport throughout the rest of the UK out-with London and the South East, it's not a "British" event.
    London's gain, is at the cost to the (majority) rest of the UK.

    Then we've had Seb Coe ramming his dream of a Team GB football team down our throats. No thanks Seb, just because we've had shady promises that the 4 home nations are safe, I'm glad the SFA have not turned into Turkeys voting for Christmas by allowing this.

    I'll back the GB athletes all the way in London, but the politics will always stick in my throat.

  • Comment number 12.

    Hmmm, flag waving patriotism is one thing, what the Canadians are doing is quite another. The Canadians are genuinely happy to have the world come visit and the maple leaf is just the emblem of choice for this massive party. As a Brit living in Vancouver I trundled down to watch the woman's hockey between the Slovaks and the Swiss. My Canadian wife and I picked a side and supported them as if we were supporting our own team(s). Sure we were still wearing our red gloves and the young girl besides us waved a Canadian flag but we were all there for one thing and that was to have a good time. I think that provided the emphasis is on having fun the London Olympics will do just fine, flag waving optional.

  • Comment number 13.

    I am a Canadian who after living for many years in the UK, returned to live in Canada three years ago. What struck me most walking around Vancouver the other day, was how inclusive the Vancouver Olympics are, people of all races had draped themselves in the Canadian flag, it made me feel proud and humble at the same time. It is not something I ever experienced in Britain, where patriotism has been hijacked by the far right.

  • Comment number 14.

    I think a bit of flag waving is fine but i'd like to think that us Brits could also celebrate great sporting achievements from any nationality.

    I'd love to be in the Olympic stadium to see Jessica Ennis, Phillips Idowu; Christine Ohorougu etc. compete for golds but would also love love love to see the amazing Usain Bolt.

  • Comment number 15.

    P.S. Ollie,still waiting for you to go down the Skeleton track, as you promised to do.

  • Comment number 16.

    James Saunders wrote:

    "Hmmm, flag waving patriotism is one thing, what the Canadians are doing is quite another. The Canadians are genuinely happy to have the world come visit and the maple leaf is just the emblem of choice for this massive party. As a Brit living in Vancouver I trundled down to watch the woman's hockey between the Slovaks and the Swiss. My Canadian wife and I picked a side and supported them as if we were supporting our own team(s). Sure we were still wearing our red gloves and the young girl besides us waved a Canadian flag but we were all there for one thing and that was to have a good time."

    That's something I've been really pleased about in Vancouver. A nothing women's hockey game between Russia and China - 2 utter non-powers - still draws great and enthusiastic crowds. "Lesser" sports like biathalon or nordic-combined were followed almost as well as bigger events. It's been great and Sochi and London will do very well to match this.

  • Comment number 17.

    As a Brit who married a Canadian, I have lived in Canada 10 years and knowing Canada as I now do I doubt this fever will be replicated in the UK. The respect here for any view or opinion in the multi cultural society goes far beyond the present European psyche in the UK. Can any Brit imagine a curling crowd singing "God Save The Queen" in the middle of an end whilst supporting out team? I can't and to be waving Union Jacks, St George's Crosses, St Andrew's Crosses, St Patrick's Crosses on the streets of our towns and cities, when everyone is encouraged to fly EU flags, will take some adjustment.
    What has happened in Vancouver can only really be compared with the street parties we have had celebrating the Queen's birthday and such like.
    Still, I do hope that with screens in every town centre and sensible controls on liquor sales, not to mention a radical and lenient approach to policing, the 2012 Olympics might be just as popular. Time now to plan and time to sell the "Olympic party".

  • Comment number 18.

    As an ex-pat Londoner now living in Vancouver, I think the street party in Robson Street in downtown Vancouver is an excellent model for Trafalgar Square, or maybe Hyde Park. The Robson Street entertainment (a rock band, the zip-wire and huge screen tv) has been extremely popular.
    The atmosphere there for the ice hockey final tomorrow afternoon will be awesome. The closest thing London will ever experience would be England in the football world cup final displayed on a huge screen tv in Trafalgar Square.

  • Comment number 19.

    I have just watched the men's slalom and we had two skiers racing just after the top 30 had gone down. So why oh why BBC did you not show them coming down the hill. Instead we get 5 mins of analysis which could have been used to show our skiers getting 28 & 29th spot. Any top 30 position is worthy of note and showing on our TV service. We have had little enough to cheer about during these Games, so you could at least show our boys doing their best. We deserve it and so do the families of the racers.

  • Comment number 20.

    Note how Canada's two main language communities are arguably more separate culturally than the home nations of Great Britain, but they have no trouble rallying behind a single flag. Canadians have been cheering their athletes on regardless of whether they are anglophone, francophone, or allophone. It is not just Canada; in most countries, international sporting events have an effect of promoting national unity. The Iraqi football team, composed of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, comes to mind.

    The British really are a special case in that they compete in their most important sports as separate entities. There are surely plenty of others around the world for whom their country commands less loyalty than the constituent nation/region (Spain's Basques and Catalans come to mind), but because football, cricket and rugby originated in Britain, it is just the home nations that have been able to get away with having their own national teams on the world stage.

  • Comment number 21.

    Every so often you get a person 'correcting' the national sport of Canada. And that's okay if you want to be pedantic about it.

    As a Canadian, I have always found it simply absurd to say lacrosse is the national sport. Just because some governing body decided to make an arbitrary statute to say lacrosse is Canada's national sport, doesn't necessarily make it true in the real world.

    To make things even more confusing because of this hockey vs lacrosse debate, they decided to make one national sport for summer and the other for winter.

    BBC has it right without needing to qualify it in my opinion. Hockey is Canada's national sport (non de facto) and I don't give a damn what the law says.

    This is not to knock lacrosse, which I saw played at the Queen's Park arena in New West many years ago. It was fun to watch, but because the ball is frequently passed and disappears briefy upon a possession, it is hard to follow the play if you have never seen it before - especially between combatants at a high level.

  • Comment number 22.

    The difference is that the Winter Games are about the perfect size to be manageable in a city the size of Vancouver. The bloated summer games (made even worse in recent years via the inclusion of unnecessary sports such as rugby sevens, tennis, golf, and the retention of soccer) have made the Summer Olympics just too large. And most of the time the IOC sticks the Winter Olympics in out-of-the-way hamlets that make for great scenery but are impractical to host a major tournament.

    The Winter Games are an entirely different matter, particularly in Canada, because the games are naturally focused around the marquee sport, hockey, but also Canada genuinely LIKES just about every sport involved in the Olympics. To us, there's very little strange about it, with the possible exception of ski jumping. But the Olympic hockey tournament is the equivalent of hosting a World Cup in soccer or rugby - that alone is such an anticipated event that the games don't need to be sold since those are present.

    My advice for London would be to focus around the events that the British public have more of an appreciation for and use those to raise the tide of others that aren't as familiar. Again, much harder for the Summer games, but London's one of the world's sport capitals. Much will be expected.

    Oh, and keep joking around whenever possible. Canadians were the ones who were saying that the torch was Canada's tribute to the home of the world's most famous half-Canadian, Superman. Cutting through the stodge of the IOC with some light-hearted joking around is advisable.

    Having a couple of beers along the way wouldn't hurt. And since Britain's best exports are comedy and beer, you're already ahead of the game.

  • Comment number 23.

    London can be more British and how. The only problems are transportation and those darn corporate sponsored influxes, paying little and taking the best tickets, restaurants, and events. I am connected to the travel industry and ,British currently living in Vancouver. MOST Canadians slowly but surely ate slept and breathed olympics apart from a tiny minority. The so called riot was 2000 people on week 1 who broke 3 windows. Every 10th Canadian found a reason to visit a friend or relative, just adding more and more people juice to the party. London is the capital - get over it. Throw in Brussels and Paris and 25 million people live within a 2 hour journey, by train or car of the capital. Vancouver was full of USA supporters. London will have a similar foreigner effect from predominantly Europe. London just happens to be the centre of the world of air transport, the most visited city year after year in the world, and oh by the way, the centre of upteen world commitees, rich traditions, legendary pageantry, history (hope they play on this big time in the opening)Do you need more? When Londoners see this influx they will go British two times over, as that long lost aunty or uncle appears and British pride takes over. Then the rest of the nation will follow. Its just the way it is.

  • Comment number 24.

    Quite simply.....NO!!! mainly because our PC government is against patriotism incase it offends the millions of immigrants who now live here. During the last world cup (soccer) I was forced to remove the English flag from the window of my property as a Pakistani neighbour had complained it was offensive. That's what I love about Canada and Canadians, they have retained the sense of national pride and community spirit that we lost here years ago. I love to see that old maple leaf fluttering in the breeze of just about every Canadians garden and how the locals make you feel welcome 'to our beautiful country'. We will soon lose christmas too as it becomes the winter holidays incase our non British citizens are offended. Anyway we suck big time at winter sports so GO CANADA.

  • Comment number 25.

    If Toronto had won the summer games I think we would have seen a very different event more along the lines of what London will be like. Great world cities - with all their inherent social mix - usually rise above parochialism.

    That said, Britishness is a dying breed and I'd love to see the first English games. If you want some evidence of what that could be like, two of my most vivid memories of living in London were dropping by Trafalgar Square to see the Ashes squad in 2005 and of course the Rugby lads in 2003. Swing low...

  • Comment number 26.

    This American poster approves of patriotism and hopes that the London Games have a distinctively British flavor. The Canadians have been wonderful hosts---unabashedly patriotic, yet warmly welcoming of the world. Patriotism is a good thing as long as it is not used to belittle or offend. I still cringe when I remember the booing crowds in Athens.

  • Comment number 27.

    On the Hockey v. Lacrosse thing:

    It isn't recent-day political correctness.

    Lacrosse is the older game, and prior to Confederation it was probably as popular, or more, than Hockey. Lacrosse has been Canada's official national game since the 1860's. Hockey didn't really begin to resemble the game we know now until about 1875.

    Lacrosse is problematic because it has a reputation for violence. You have to be pretty brave to play Lacrosse competitively. Hockey is fairly tame by comparison. In any case Hockey is far more popular than Lacrosse now, and has been since the 1880's or 1890's.

    Hockey also has a special place in our culture because its critical period of growth correlates to Canada's involvement in the Great War. The NHL was founded in 1917. To this day, the peak of Amateur hockey achievement is the Memorial Cup.

    The main teams in the league were founded during or after WWI, and some of the main trophies - the Conn Smythe Trophy, for example - bear the names of the founders. For example, too, the Dressing Room of the Montreal Canadiens has the words "to you from failing hands we throw the torch". This alludes to the poem "In Flanders Fields", by John MacRae, but also has a second meaning in the sense of nationalism embodied in Le Canadien. (The English Montreal team, the Maroons, went belly-up in the Depression).

    It was in that era that Hockey became embedded as part of the national psyche, an expression of Canadian national identity.

  • Comment number 28.

    Euroloo - Trust me, if anything Toronto's going to be just as crazy if Canada wins tomorrow as Vancouver. When Canada beat the US in Salt Lake City, between 100 and 250,000 people flooded the main streets - and my now-girlfriend played in one of dozens of impromptu street hockey games. It was just as crazy when Canada won the 2004 world cup over the Finns.

    I really think it's hard for anyone to understand the connection Canada has with hockey unless they've lived here for a while. Brazil and soccer is the only comparison that really comes to mind, or perhaps the Windies and cricket. While we produce great athletes in other sports - Steve Nash, Justin Morneau, Jacques and Gilles Villeneuve - the fact is that we're pretty much always in the shadow of the US for most of those (worse still with things like a traditional F1 country being overrun by horrid NASCAR races simply due to the fact it's so hyped by the American media). Hockey's the place where we compete on an equal level with the world.

  • Comment number 29.

    again probably not,as a brit living in canada there is too much negativity in Britain,even on this site you can complain about an article,but there is not a button to say you agree or like the article.however the olympics are a great chance for joyous flag waving and a united country.

  • Comment number 30.

    "Quite simply.....NO!!! mainly because our PC government is against patriotism incase it offends the millions of immigrants who now live here. During the last world cup (soccer) I was forced to remove the English flag from the window of my property as a Pakistani neighbour had complained it was offensive. That's what I love about Canada and Canadians, they have retained the sense of national pride and community spirit that we lost here years ago. I love to see that old maple leaf fluttering in the breeze of just about every Canadians garden and how the locals make you feel welcome 'to our beautiful country'. We will soon lose christmas too as it becomes the winter holidays incase our non British citizens are offended. Anyway we suck big time at winter sports so GO CANADA."

    As a Canadian, I signed up to wonder how an English flag could possibly be offensive. Really, I'm baffled as to how anyone could possibly think that. A massive amount of immigrants surely isn't the problem because Vancouver is one of the more multicultural cities in the world, yet I see so many recently immigrated Chinese-Canadian, Indian-Canadian, Korean-Canadians, etc, waving the maple leaf just as proudly as those with longer history in the country.

  • Comment number 31.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 32.

    First of all, thanks very much, Ollie, for your live coverage on the BBC sports news site. It's been informative, involving and amusing. A fantastic part of my experience of the games from far, far away (France).
    I'm Canadian and know the UK very well too. So I ask the same questions as you at the end of the blog. There are so many unpredictable factors that come up that you can't have any idea in advance. I had no idea that the Vancouver games would excite Canadians quite so much. And, as the generally hostile, mad dog British press has shown, it might have been very different.
    To understand our reactions, you have to go back a long way: I'm old enough to remember the years and years of frustration of our getting few if any medals in the winter games ... the summer games too. Until they changed the rules to allow professionals in ice hockey, it was almost impossible for a young Canadian to understand how the Russians could field a team made up of what were in fact professional players (thanks to the lies of socialism) and could be allowed to humiliate us because we could only field a truly amateur team.
    Also, for years, our sports budget was a disgrace. How could we possibly compete with countries who actually took pride in their sports achievements, and invested to get results?
    So, you see, we're overwhelmed by the success of the Vancouver games in general, and by our athletes' successes in particular.
    As far as Britain is concerned, if the London games committee and the British sports associations really work at achieving a balance, it might, just might be possible for their games to inspire the oh so cynical Brits. Good luck to them.

  • Comment number 33.

    I am a fervent anti-patriot, and proud of that fact. And the fact that the Olympics are coming here in 2012 against the wishes of a great majority of the population reinforces that. I'll take great delight in every single British defeat in London without exception. My dream is that they have every bit as miserable a games as Atlanta 1996 and this time there will be no Sir Steve Redgrave to spare their blushes.

  • Comment number 34.

    As a Canuck living in the UK, I've felt so proud watching these games. Proud of our atheletes, but also of all those flag waving Canadians who have welcomed the world and put on a great party in one of our most beautiful areas.
    I hope London & the rest of the UK will enjoy their games as much as Canada has.

  • Comment number 35.

    Poster 33, I'm afraid the only person your actions/opinions will have any effect on will be yourself. Do you really think you sitting at home and saying "bah humbug" will have any effect on anyone else, athletes or otherwise? Except possibly for people to have the thought that you are miserable and negative. The Olympics can be a party, a celebration of sport, success, achievement, effort, dedication and participation. I think you are confusing patriotism with nationalism: there is a difference. You will have a rubbish two weeks. Hopefully everyone else will enjoy themselves.

  • Comment number 36.

    I'm not British, I'm Scottish and think we should have our own teams at both Summer and Winter Olynpics. We are just as much a nation as any other that participates at these events. I think if you look particularly at football, you realise just how much passion Scots have for their country. I remember when we beat France in Paris, everyone was out in the main streets of Glasgow, tying flags to lampposts, draping the Saltire from flat windows, scaling traffic lights with Lion Rampants. I just cant ever imagine us doing the same thing with a union jack (butcher's apron) if they were to win a gold medal at the olympics.

  • Comment number 37.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 38.

    To put it another way, I am a huge fan of the BBC, but snotty-nosed entitled remarks like that is precisely what puts people's backs up about the BBC. How dare Ollie Williams question the security of Britain's national identity. That level of debate has to be EARNED. I am happy to hear it from a Paxman, a Dimbleby, even a Huq. But who on earth is Ollie Williams?

  • Comment number 39.

    Ollie Williams is the man who covers obscure and boring sports. I thought that was obvious from the heading of this article.

    If it's tiddleywinks or dwile-flonking, Ollie is your man...

  • Comment number 40.

    I am English, but am completely with lock,stock_and_2_sliding_tackles over this. In Football, Rugby, Cricket - we are all represented by our own national teams, and quite rightly so. All of us are partiotic when our national teams play, but personally I feel no real allegiance to the state called 'Britain'. There is no British nation: the United Kingdom comprises four proud nations that, for better or worse, are subsumed into one state.

    As for ned542kelly's experience in having to take down the flag of England because it causes offence: how these facsist authorities play right into the hands of the BNP and other right wing extremists by their petty behaviour. I would have risked going to Court rather than removing it.

  • Comment number 41.

    I have mixed views on this. I feel Scottish bar 2 weeks every 2 years when I normally support team GB in the Olympics. To protect the Scottish national football team I am a strong supporter of the no team GB web site but want to see the London games be a success.

    As a frequent visitor to Vancouver, at least once a year, I have felt more involved in 2010 than 2012, but after watching these games I feel I want to be a part of this.

    It is still viewed in Scotland as a London's games not a UK games and that is something the 2012 committee will need to work on.

    Well done Vancouver, London please take up the flame with pride and passion

  • Comment number 42.

    Canuck5551 wrote:
    As a Canadian, I signed up to wonder how an English flag could possibly be offensive. Really, I'm baffled as to how anyone could possibly think that.

    Cultural difference, I'm afraid. The far Right parties in England during the 20th century did such an effective job of co-opting the English flag and the United Kingdom flag (the British National Party and the National Front, for example) that displaying them is tantamount, in many people's eyes, to declaring oneself a racist bigot. If I were of Asian descent, living next to someone prominently displaying the English flag, I think that I'd have reasonable cause to be apprehensive.

    If this seems incredible to anyone not in the UK, please read the "Flag of England" article on Wikipedia.

  • Comment number 43.

    Good comments but forgetting one thing,the Canadians and the US always hate to come second where as our attitude is "oh well we came third,that's not bad".
    Also not all of us are so enthralled with the UK holding these Olympics in these dire financial times,I for one would have liked to spend the money on something more worth while here at home.
    Sorry to sound so negative but this is how I see it.

  • Comment number 44.

    OK I will admit that I gave up on the comments after too many calling Ice Hockey just Hockey so this may have been said already.

    I am NOT looking forward to the 2012 games, the British media is swamped enough when major international sports are outside the UK, goodness knows what 2012 will be like.

    Two years to build up a stock of interesting media to consume.

  • Comment number 45.

    I remember when there were plenty of comments about how the Chinese were overly zealous and fanatical in the 2008 Olympics - yet they showed the same people, waving their national flag, shouting when the camera was pointed at them. Yet with Canada it is patriotism and celebration. Why the difference in terms (from positive words resulting in pride to negativity) simply because the race is different?

  • Comment number 46.

    I think it is an interesting debate but Canada will always be more of a cohesive nation than Britain. Canada's history is what makes it patriotism strong as it has always been the neighbour of the US that has stayed traditional to its roots and strongly proud of that.

    The historical difference in Britain is that each nation within Britain has a strong history and are proud as individuals. If the event was just English it would get full support because everyone knows who and what that is. To make a comparison if Canada was part of a North American team and host, then they would be the small part that is misunderstood and forgotten.

    Basically, you can't have a British Olympics as most people can't differentiate this from an English Olympics. The organising committee will get more support from the rest of Britain if they use the home nations flags and identities too. There are events outside of England and these should be allowed to be openly promoted as Welsh and Scottish venues. Within the opening ceremony there could be a representitive for each of the nations.

    In essence, we can't compete with Canada but we could co-host an Olympics between a union of 4 very proud nations.

  • Comment number 47.

    If the London games are to be truly British I would not expect to see much evidence of the Union flag, cheering or the like. That would be quite un-British. The odd round of applause at the appropriate time would be sufficient.

    As for winning, that is not the point at all.

  • Comment number 48.

    With the fuss over having a Team GB football team I find it highly unlikely that there will be a surge of Britishness, certainly in Scotland. If anything the further from London you go people are going to realise that London seems to be getting a better deal than the rest of us

  • Comment number 49.

    I love Canada's flag waving good time. Good for them! They should be proud of the lovely party they gave the whole world. As a whole, Canadians seem to be happy, gracious and nice. We can't wait to visit next year. My family watched the Olympics every night and supported the US, Canada or our favorite underdog. Flag waving does not mean you feel superior to other countries, may be it just means that you are happy with your own.

  • Comment number 50.

    London will not be as British as Vancouver is Canadian because the majorty of the seats at the prestige events will be bought by Corporates and occupied by people who are not that interested in the sports on view - we all remember seats for a Wimbledon Centre Court Henman quarter final being left vacant whilst the Corporate guests finished their lunch in the hospitality area. Londoners pay extra taxes each year for the Olympics but there has been no announcement as to whether we will actually be able to see any of the events we have paid to stage. The London 2012 website simply says that sales have not started yet, although the press have reported that Corporates have already been able to buy seats as part of sponsorship deals. If Lord Coe wants us to get behind the games he'd better let us see them first hand rather than fob us off with a big screen in Trafalgar Square, which I'm willing to bet is the current plan.

  • Comment number 51.

    I applaud all the athletes that take part in the Olympic games, no matter what country they are from. These people are the most amazing and talented athletes in the world. They are all champions. Even if I do not always agree with the judges and sometimes think they are biased, I have much respect and admiration for the athletes, who should not be criticized when a judge makes controversial calls. It is not the athlete-its the judges. So never blame the athletes for the judges decisions.

    I do believe that the deciding judge in events, such as speedskating, ect. should not be from the host country.

    Many other countries count the gold medals as the most important and do not care about the silvers and bronzes. This is wrong. In the USA, we count every medal as important. I am just as proud of the people who don't win and the bronze medalists, as I am of the silver and gold medalists. Countries should be proud of all their athletes for taking part. They are all fantastic and so incredibly inspiring.

    The Canadians want to win the men's hockey game more than anything. The British do not have a signature event- or at least, not one that I am aware of. Rather, they are more spread out amongst the games. So that in itself is completely different.

    We all know the British are very patriotic to the Queen and their homeland. But all countries are different. Great Britain is changing, too. There are more different kinds of people there than ever before. Who truly represents Great Britain?

    This will help define Great Britain in this century. The key is for Great Britain to take their time and work out all the details, rather than just rushing through everything.

    The British would have the best games by making the 2012 Olympics all about the games and athletes- rather than trying to "Own the Podium." That is what the games are about- the athletes and bringing the world together. If the British celebrate the beauty and what is positive in this world, it will be great.

    It is awesome to see the patriotism by the Canadians, because they do truly love their country. I love their country, too, in the aspect that they have treated us well, helped us after 9/11, and been proven to be our "Great Neighbor from the North." Canada sometimes gets overshadowed by USA, but the USA has been very positively affected by Canada, especially their incredibly funny comedians, such as John Candy and Dan Aykroyd, who are among the best ever. Canada absolutely deserves more credit and this Olympics will carry a glow for Canada, long after it is over. The patriotism for Canada will live on.

    That being said, this hockey match-up will be intensive today. Originally, everyone thought Canada and Russia for the hockey tournament. They completely counted us out. That has only given us more motivation being the underdog. The USA wants revenge for losing to Canada at Salt Lake. Canada wants to win for their homeland. It is a Battle of North America for being the best hockey team in the world.

    I absolutely love Canada, but my heart is and always will be the USA!

    Go USA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:)

  • Comment number 52.

    Posted by Jim Clark:

    "I think it is an interesting debate but Canada will always be more of a cohesive nation than Britain. Canada's history is what makes it patriotism strong as it has always been the neighbour of the US that has stayed traditional to its roots and strongly proud of that."

    Sorry, but you are off the mark on that. Quebec has had 2 referendum's seeking seperation from Canada 9coming within a whisker of seperating in the 90s), popular support for seperation has historically been much stonger in Quebec than in Scotland (never mind Wales) and Newfoundland only became part of Canada after WW2 by the slimmest of margins (less than 1%) in the vote.

    It's only recently that we have developped the sort of cohesiveness you speak of.

  • Comment number 53.

    "36" sad little scottish man same old story i'm english but do i moan about the scots being part of britain? i mean the uk prime minister is scottish get a life

  • Comment number 54.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 55.

    Interesting article and interesting comments, but I would disagree with much of what has been said regarding Canadian unity and patriotism.

    I am a Brit who has lived and worked in Canada for the past four and a half years, and whilst I thoroughly enjoy being here and find my lifestyle far superior to the one that I had in the UK, the cohesiveness of Canadian society is a myth.

    Canada is comprised of 13 provinces and territories, each having its own unique identity and culture, and whilst events such as the Olympics may unite them as 'Canada' in the eyes of the world, the day to day reality is quite different.

    The sheer size of the country makes the creation of a unified nation almost impossible, both culturally and politically. I have worked in Quebec - whose separatist leanings are well documented - for almost four years, and many Quebecers see themselves as Quebecois first and Canadian second. Most of the Newfoundlanders I have worked with feel the same in regards to their provincial heritage, and oil-rich Alberta also has a burgeoning separatist movement.

    Don't get me wrong - I love living here and my comments should be viewed as observations rather than criticisms - but I think it will take more than an Olympic Games to overcome 150 years of history.

  • Comment number 56.

    Maybe for newer countries it is easier to show a patriotism that is not linked with the far right. It often seems like the many thousands of years of history gets in the way. In many respects I am not particularly patriotic out of embarassement for our history and I think that is fair enough, we did terrible things and need to recognise that before we start too much flag waving. As for all the 4 countries getting along, the ABE T shirts in Scotland sum it up perfectly, unfortunately thanks to our ancestors need to invade and kill we modern day English people that have no animosity towards our fellow UK residents have to put up with stuff like that. Throughout my 30 years I have always supported the other home countries in whatever they do, unless they play England. This latest insult tipped me over the edge, and over the weekend I was cheering for France and Italy over Wales and Scotland and I am now happy that England are the only country to be playing at the world cup. When it comes to the Olympics I was born in Great Britain have lived here all my life and so when an athlete pulls on a GB jersey they will get my full support regardless of their country of origin. As for GB football, not playing our national sport at our first Olympics in far too long would be pretty dumb.

    Lastly, LucyIllinois try thinking about what you say before you say it, Scotland has it's own legal system outside of the rest of GB and has done since before America even existed. It was a Scottish decision based on compassion for a dying man that was essentially offered up by Libya so that someone could be officially blamed. There are massive question marks about whether he was responsible and in fact was in the process of an appeal when he was released. People of all countries died in 911 and yet no other country would think to tell America how to prosecute the people it holds responsible, so please don't try to comment like that on a Scottish issue that has zero relevance to this thread.

  • Comment number 57.

    What has made this Olympics special for me is the sheer pride you can see in the Canadian fans for not only their team, but their city and country as well. It's not a naked, ignorant patriotism, but just a moment of enjoyment. They don't boo failure, or neglect to cheer for a rival who beats their favorite. That has made these games very enjoyable to watch and has made me, an American, feel happy when I watch a Canadian athlete do well, even at the expense of my own favorites. And they did it all without taking 3-year-olds from their families and forcing them to train every day until they're 16 (China/USSR). Channeling that same spirit will be tough for GB, not because it's not a wonderful country, but because the people there subscribe to the same competitive style that most people do; "we rule and the rest of you all can go home crying to mommie."

    The one exception to this rule is Ice Hockey. It the only award the Canadians EXPECT to win, and as the only sport featuring loads of highly paid superstars, the athletes will be much harder to forgive for failure. Canadians are nice when the 17 year old fails to land a jump or falls on the slopes because of nerves. We'll see how they feel when $100 million worth of stars fall flat on their face on the greatest stage, as I dearly hope they will (sorry Canada).

  • Comment number 58.

    RandomArbiter, fantastic point, it comes back to the age of the country, older countries seem to be unable to get away with this degree of patriotism without it being criticized, and maybe this has made us wary of going over the top.

  • Comment number 59.

    To Gideon at #55: You're right...but this truth means nothing. Because in all countries (certainly the ones I've lived in: Canada, the US and England), the fact is that on a daily basis, outside of a unifying crisis, people really only 'care' about where they live. The next city over, the next state over, the next province, the next county over? Don't really care. Not on their emotional or psychic radar.

    In Canada, there is much presumed enmity from one area to the next, much of this trumpeted in the press. The fact is that this so-called 'bad blood' is non-existent. There is apathy, there is indifference, there is disinterest...but true dislike? No. And I refer you back to my initial paragraph for the supporting notion.

    (Canada's is an entirely different set of circumstances than the one I had good reason to question during the near-decade I lived in England, that of "What is it to be 'English', 'British' or a citizen of the 'United Kingdom'?", resulting me realizing that Canadians, known for their insecurities regarding'national identity', had it far better than their counterparts across the pond. This realization stunned me then, continues to today.)

    I'm old enough to recall the Quebec referendums, the FLQ well as the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the then-USSR. I don't think that anyone believes that the Vancouver Olympics have been a cure-all for what's ailed us as a nation...but not since Henderson scored his series-winning goal can I recall this country feeling quite so proud to be what it is as it has during the Games. And that's not something to be dismissed so lightly.

  • Comment number 60.

    #36 I understand what you are saying. I'm English not British and cannot support a British team. The Union flag means nothing to me anymore. Its time that England, Scotland, Wales and N.Ireland entered their own teams into the Olympics.

  • Comment number 61.

    #42 - If Canadians and Americans hate to come in second or third, then how come Canadians and Americans are the only nations that count "total medals" as the yardstick of Olympic success rather than just golds, as everyone else does? Even now, with Canada dominating the gold medal count, their newspapers are saying that its a "good consolation" to losing the total medal count, which was their "own the podium" goal. Odd that we would so honor good athletes who tried their best and got third when we only care about winning.

    I think the competitive stereotype of the US and Canada is misleading. As a case in point, I would mention that in the World Cup, while most Americans will be rooting for team USA (underdog stories are fun), once we get eliminated we'll be pulling out our "Team England" jerseys and going to the local cheap knockoff of an English pub. There are Italian, Brazilian, and other fans as well, and we'll all be celebrating the sport and the competition, long after we're no longer in it (those that follow soccer at least, which is a semi-large number for the World Cup). It happens every time and the mock-patriotism for countries many of us have never even visited is a lot of fun and occasionally even leads to flag waving and horn honking.

  • Comment number 62.

    I am sure that sports commentators will do all they can to whip up a rather silly form of patriotism, going on and on about England's hope for gold medals in the hop skip and jump or egg and spoon races which will bore us all to tears. Others will stockpile DVDs of old movies as an alternative. However, antipatriotic elements will be revealed when we read of dysfunctional buildings, severe transport problems and corruption among various officials, not to mention the sagas concerning drug allegations and tests of athletes. However, one thing that will unite this country will be a backlash against threats from home grown religious extremists (as mentioned in today's Telegraph) who have been nurtured within the labour party.

  • Comment number 63.

    I have to say that all the flag waving is just funny to me, I believe it comes from Canada being a young country and there general insecurity about their so called national identity.

    The last thing I want to see at the London games is a bunch of flag waving fools pretending that their country is the best in the world. Canada in my opinion lost sight of the fact that they are only the host nation and that means you host the rest of the world not host the rest of the world if they feed your ego by wearing a maple leaf. We don't need that sort of stupidity here in London because despite the fact people make a big thing about our patriotism being high jacked by the far right, all the British people I know are very proud of this country and because we happen to talk it down (which is our right as voters and taxpayers) we are still viciously patriotic. My experience of 2 years spent living in Canada and having a Canadian wife is that in general they don't seem to have the maturity to except the fact that you can be proud of a country without ramming it down your throat!

    Also I'd like to know where this myth came from that Canadians are the most welcoming and hospitable people in the world this is surely something dreamed up by the Canadian goverment to try and attract some skilled workers to their ageing workforce, Sure if you sell your soul like most of the British ex-pats seemed to of then maybe it could be bearable. Or maybe its self appointed like being the best country in the world decided by a population of which 75% don't posess a passport so how they know that is beyond me.

    My wish is that we in Britian host the games with hounour and pride and also in a truly British understated way and leave all the False patriotism, laughable flag waving and no substance sound-bite culture to the North Americans.

    Finally I'd like to think that if the Canadian press write negative things about the 2012 games which I'm sure they will I'd like to think we Brits wont start cry-babying and we just turn the other cheek rather than feeling the need to go and defend our insecurities on the CBC website!

  • Comment number 64.

    I live in Toronto, and I've seen no sign among the general public of any interest whatsoever in the Vancouver shenanigans. Radio, TV and the newspapers are full of it, but I've not heard a mention from the people - who,the media would have us believe, are obsessed. Maybe it's restricted to that part of the population who are determined to get their photos published as they make a spectacle of themselves.

  • Comment number 65.

    To schmadrian at #59

    You make some very good points there, especially in your first paragraph.

    I agree with you too about the sense of pride that is evident at the moment and indeed, that is not something to be dismissed lightly.

    However, my main point was that Canada is not the unified nation that so many of the other posts seemed to think it was, and I think your comments add weight to my view. I'm not saying that this is unique to Canada and as I said, my views are observations rather than criticisms, but the country is most certainly not the land of harmony as seen by most of the rest of the world.

    That said, I still feel a greater sense of national pride here than I ever did in the UK where, as you say, the notion of 'what it is to be British/English' is becoming increasingly blurred.

  • Comment number 66.

    I wanted to say what a fabulous games Vancouver has put on. I just HAVE to congratulate all of Canada and the Canadians - Fantastic. And, despite all the poor weather, so well organised. Watching the Beeb, as the games were starting, all the athletes interviewed were blown over by how well looked after they were - It's the Arsenal ethos. You worry about going out there and doing your stuff...We'll worry about your house and home.

    As for London 2012? I think we might all have a bit of a giggle when we cock things up. British? That's always been a bit wobbly . You could write a book on our sense of identity, but it would be a tedious read, and we wouldn't be any the wiser afterwards.

  • Comment number 67.

    I really do hope we can make the games equally welcoming for the world but also very British and patriotic in the sense that Canada has. Unfortunately, being patriotic is something of a no-no in this country. It's a pity we don't feel we can be patriotic, and that being patriotic is seen as something that should be prohibited and restrained. I recall that on St George's day last year, market traders and taxi drivers were ordered by Liverpool Council to remove their St George's cross as 'they did not have their permission to promote the day or the country'. Although I personally feel that the US does go a bit over the top with their patriotic tendencies, I would much rather have a culture of self-belief in your country like the Americans have, unlike here in Britain where we are devoid of anything associated with celebrating the country. Could you imagine being told to take down the stars and stripes?

    I think we often forget just how important and influential Britain has been in the world and it's a great shame that we are not encouraged by our fledging government and society to celebrate what we are. I'm all for Gordan Browns plans on introducing a 'Britain day' to ingnite patriotism; although I think we can rest assured the likelyhood of this coming to fruition and next to nothing. Even if it does, any patriotism would be hijacked and used as an excuse for boozing.
    On the subject of the constituent countries V Great Britain, we should be making an effort to further intergrate the country as a whole. I'm sick to the stomach of hearing scottish nationalists (and equally English/welsh nationalists) slating the union between the countries. At the end of the day, we are a relatively small Island and for the constituent countries to break away not be beneficial for anyone. We are, after all, all part of the same Island. When I fill in a form and it asks for your nationality, I always put British and never English.

    On the other hand, I can appreciate the scottish view that everything revolves around the London. Although London should be the focal point of interest with it being the financial capital of the world, it's not just people north of the border who suffer, it's anyone outside of London.

  • Comment number 68.

    To St. George #63: Nearly a decade of living in England (and this backstopped with British heritage) brought me some fascinating insights about 'flag-waving' and general emotional outbursts: many, *many* had a problem with the notion of being emotive, of declaring anything heartfelt, of processing anything of any emotional resonance. Unless...

    ...unless there was either a) football and/or b) beer involved. In which case, everything was fine, everyone could take the moment and deal with it.

    I believe that, given my experiences and your comments, I can see that the 2012 Olympics have the potential to either be transformative...or wreak terrible havoc on some psyches. As I often heard while living over there, 'Good luck with that.'

  • Comment number 69.

    Living in Vancouver and experiencing the feeling running up to and through the games, I think Canada as a whole and Vancouverites in particular have missed the point of the Olympics entirely. The Olympics is supposed to be a unifying event for the entire world, where all countries are celebrated. The feel in Vancouver is it's Canada's party and you're only invited if you want to cheer for the home team. There are only vague references to the Olympics (all centred around team Canada) in areas not deemed official venues. Rather, it is a sea of red and white and "Go Canada Go" everywhere. I cannot count the times I've walked down the street, proudly displaying my country's colours, only to be given a strange look, told my country "sucks" or, on one occasion, literally have a cup thrown at me while telling me what they think of my home. I've had several conversations where Canadians have asked me why I'm not cheering for Canada. When I tell them I'm cheering for my home country, they act puzzled and tell me I should really cheer for Canada instead.

    Needless to say, my perception of Canadians has changed pretty drastically over the last few weeks. They seem to have taken on what they perceive to be the persona of their neighbours to the south, the one true thing they identify themselves as not being. On the contrary, the Americans I've met here are nothing like this. Rather, they are polite and have actually cheered on my team with me on a few occasions! In my experience in this Vancouver February, Canada has turned into a bunch of chest thumping jingoes.

  • Comment number 70.

    Home Rule For England wrote: "Its time that England, Scotland, Wales and N.Ireland entered their own teams into the Olympics."

    The British are really spoilt by sporting tradition. Do you think you are the only ones whose primary allegiance lies with something other than the internationally recognized state? Don't you think Spain's Basques and Catalans for instance wouldn't want their own teams in the Olympics? It has already been noted here that Canada has come far closer to political separation in recent memory than the UK.

    The only reason the home nations have separate national teams in football, cricket, and rugby is that these sports originated in Britain, and it is vastly unfair to the rest of the world as it is. Don't push your luck.

  • Comment number 71.

    This was a great read. I'm a Canadian abroad at the moment and all the excitement is making me homesick. I just hope that the patriotism is still there when I return.

  • Comment number 72.

    Such cynicism about the British people is embarrassing. Do we not all collectively support the British and Irish Lions regardless of nation? Or perhaps it is just rugby fans who can look past their respective nations and come together to support their teams

  • Comment number 73.

    What a nice story and very surprising considering what the Canadian press has been reporting on what the British media was saying about Vancouver (Guardian: "the most disasterous games in history").

    My thoughts for London 2012 is that Britain should put it's own stamp on it and try not to mimic others. I've lived in the UK and nothing in the UK compares to Canada and hockey (or Russia or Sweden when it comes to hockey). On the other hand, there are many unique aspects of British athletics that you should embrace.

    Make it your own distinctive games.

  • Comment number 74.


    The very existence of a Team GB threatens the Home Nations football associations, no matter how many empty promises are issued from FIFA.

    The Lions existence doesn't threaten any rugby associations.

    Big difference.

  • Comment number 75.

    Whilst everything that was said about the Canadians I recognised from visiting the country and from meeting Canadians elsewhere I found it interesting to note the tone of the piece about what will happen in 2012. The ponderous tone about about what the British public would do, makes it seem that we in this country have never had such a large event in the UK.

    Oh of course like everyone else that has anything to do with the olympics in london or government they have forgotten that what enabled them to show that this country could do it the 2002 Commonwealth Games. The support given and shown to teams that for various reasons didnt have many participants or followers was superb. The scenes in and around Manchester at that time made me proud to not only be a Mancunian, but also British (yes I know at the Commonwealth Games there are seperate national teams). It will be interesting to see how londoners cope they are reluctant to help anyone else at the best of times.

  • Comment number 76.

    The point about having to remove the English flag during the last world cup is pathetic. Don't feel embarrassed though Canada is just as worse. We have kangaroo courts called human rights commissions that censor anything deemed offensive to any special interst group. Canada is one of the most politically correct countries in the world, the flag waving is little more than superficial window dressing.

  • Comment number 77.

    I noticed some comments regarding 'Own The Podium', and how that could easily be perceived in a negative manner.
    Thankfully someone with half a brain in the British Columbian Provincial government realized that the Provinces latest slogan might not appeal to the world... 'The Best Place On Earth'.
    Yes that's right, I'll type it again 'The Best Place On Earth'.
    I think they changed it to something like 'Be Here' and tore down the old signage etc.

    Something for Britain to consider in 2012. Choose your slogans wisely ;)

    As for all the Canadian flag waving, I think it has come as a bit of a surprise to a lot of people. Regardless on if Britain follows suite and gets all patriotic and fervent, I'm sure their games will have it's own flavor and be merited in other ways :)

  • Comment number 78.

    Will there even be a 'Great Britain' in 2012? Hope not.

    It's about time Britain choked on its own stuffiness and died off ;-)
    Then this blog wouldn't be asking such an odd question.
    Of course England, Scotland, Wales and NI would be so patriotic!
    (It's Britain that kind of gets in the way, RIP! :-)

  • Comment number 79.

    A great article but I must correct you, we as Canadians have always been patriotic, we always travel with a maple leaf on our bags, Americans have even been known to wear them because they are envious of our pride and reputation!!! We are an incredibly proud nation, we're simply modest about it!!!

    I am, you know I am, I AM CANADIAN!!!

  • Comment number 80.

    57. At 5:14pm on 28 Feb 2010, ExiledAlaskan wrote:

    "We'll see how they feel when $100 million worth of stars fall flat on their face on the greatest stage, as I dearly hope they will (sorry Canada)."

    I'm thinking its a lot more than $ 100 million.

  • Comment number 81.

    To those who post about Canadian unity:

    No, not so much.

    It is sometimes said that Canada has too much geography and too little history.

    Regionalism has been the bane of Canadian history, from the Riel rebellions onward, the Manitoba Schools question, conscription in both wars, the FLQ, the Referenda.

    But we put it all aside when the puck drops.

    It's great hosting the Olympics, and it's great to win medals, but the bigger thing it to hope that out guests, whether live or via television, have a good time. We hope you've all enjoyed yourselves. Come back and visit another time.


    And once again, CTV screws up.
    Can't keep the puck on the screen.
    Switches to the camera that isn't showing what is going on down in the corner or against the boards.
    Same lame commentators in the intermissions.
    Runs commercials instead of replays of critical events.

    Never, never again. CTV should never, ever be allowed to cover our national teams.

  • Comment number 82.

    I can hardly think of anything more repugnant than a 'patriotic' London games. It would be bad enough what with terrible traffic, a financial crisis that will still be unwinding and endless banal puffery throughout the media without mindless nationalistic braying added into the mix.

    London in summer 2012 will be a good place to avoid and I shall do my best to do so.

  • Comment number 83.

    I cannot imagine supporting anyone competing for 'GB' .
    I automatically support anybody else, following the well-known Welsh motto : 'Anybody but England ' .

  • Comment number 84.

    Well done Sid.

    Thank you.

  • Comment number 85.

    Actually, for the most part Canadians are quite reserved and generally don't opt for huge displays of 'home team' ra-ra as opposed to their southern neighbours across the 49th parallel. Canadians are seen as courteous to a fault and apologize profusely if they think you might be put off by their behaviour.

  • Comment number 86.

    If the 2012 Olympics are as patriotic as Vancouver's Games, then - given a decent sprinkling of UK medals, and adequate security and transport - I predict they'll feel like an enormous success, with big crowds and great atmosphere. But I bet plenty of other countries (thinking particularly of Europe here, rather than North America) will find the level of patriotism and self-centredness objectionable, and think less of us for it; and the Games will be remembered as OK.
    Nothing wrong with that - but I'd prefer it if we could cool off on the patriotic fervour and focus on our role as hosts. I think the last thing the UK needs at the moment is to show the world that it's waving the flag, attempting to cling to past glories and lording it over the rest of them.

  • Comment number 87.

    I´m a Scotsman and don´t give a damn about anything "British" which, as any Scotsman, Welshman or Irishman knows, just means "English". London is the capital of England, a foreign country, so let the English wave their flags and enjoy themselves but keep us out of it.

    It´s a disgrace that Scottish sportsmen and women have to compete under the "British" flag. We´ve got our own flag called the Saltire and we´re proud of it.

  • Comment number 88.

    Was good to see some passion for the hosts :) they enjoyed being hosts and winning some golds, role on 2012 :D

  • Comment number 89.

    We're barely allowed our own individual nationalities. The Scots won't cheer for an English athlete, and the English won't cheer for a Scots athlete. We might share a common currency, a common Prime Minister and a common economy, but that's where any sense of 'Britishness' ends. Anyone who says differently is deluding themselves.

    I consider myself English, not British. And I'm not all that patriotic or fervent about that. I've been rooting for Canada in any case, because I feel more affinity with them than my own countrymen.

  • Comment number 90.

    The quick answer is No, the London games will not generate the same "British" patriotism to equal what's happened in Canada. Those days are passed and gone forever.

  • Comment number 91.

    London is a city that ask nothing of its multiple nationalities. And British particularly English modern history has been all about ignoring patriotism for reasons of inclusiveness. The wrong way I think but that's the way it been.

  • Comment number 92.

    Time for Britain to get its act together
    As a Scot who emigrated to Canada at age 5, it is refreshing to live in a country which espouses common values of social decency and respect.
    Britain has this opportunity, but has relapsed into tribalism. Surely the common values of being a cosmopolitan nation with respect for its citizens is something to behold and celebrate.
    The London games ought to be a sentinel of what it should mean to be a "Brit"...whether Welsh, English, Scots or Irish.
    Pull together or pull apart.

  • Comment number 93.

    Hi John Fitzpatrick,
    Why are you such a bitter person?
    My late Dad (from Lewis)was an RAF bomber pilot who flew with Englishmen, Welshmen, NewZealanders, and Canadians, with his ass on fire over Germany, trying to ensure a better life for people of the likes of you.

  • Comment number 94.

    These games will bring home the truth - London and England, London and Britain... these places are not the same! Fact is they are different worlds, with ordinary people subject to different realities. Unfortunately the media and foreigners (who often display the perception that England is somehow ''inside London'') can't and won't grasp this.

  • Comment number 95.

    I think it is amazing that a country so diverse as Canada has got together behind these games as it has. The difference with all of our immigrants here in Canada is that we truly want to live the Canadian lifestyle and adapt to living in Canada whilst in the UK the immigrants are only there for the health care and the benefits so they are all living their own lives pretending they are still living in their own countries. Here in Canada yes those of us that are immigrants also supported our own home nations but we all also got behind Canada too. The UK doesnt like people to be proud of their flag does it I recall a story about people not being allowed to display flags from their properties or celebrate St George's day. Here we are proud of our Maple Leaf and all of our athletes too.

  • Comment number 96.

    And BTW, Ash,
    the same goes for you.
    Let's all grow up a bit.
    I can still remember a little boy cheering on England in the World Cup, feeling badly in their loss in the 60's

  • Comment number 97.

    The Vancouver games represented something that is a unique emerging Canadian identity in my opinion. We are a relatively young melting pot of cultures and peoples, and this public forum of the games saw a very representative grass-roots sense of being Canadian. I think we went from the description "what we are not" at the opening ceremony to "this is how we are" at this point at the end of the games. I don't think the games were responsible for it... but I think Vancouver gave us an opportunity to show how we feel... without us knowing that so many of us Canadians share a similar feeling.
    I think we have a lot to learn from the older melting pots of the world (like the UK) in what we can do, what we should not do, and what we can strive to do better.
    It is a welcome sight to read positive comments in the media and this blog as opposed to the tiring clichéd negative media. I wish you well with the London games, I hope your press is able to thrive on positive attributes of the games there when they happen, and perhaps provide an opportunity for others in the UK to demonstrate how they truly identify with the country in which they reside.

  • Comment number 98.

    Until recently Canadians had a very uncertain sense of themselves and were not into huge demonstrations of national pride or patriotism, except on Canada Day or when we won an Olympic hockey game. There was always a certain amount of envy of other countries that seemed to have a much surer sense of themselves --Italians, French, Americans, Australians -- even you Brits were put on a pedestal of national example: a people that had a rich history, a strong cultural presence including outstanding works of literature and enormous contributions to civilization in the areas of science, invention and law. What other empire in the history of humanity transformed itself in a generation into an association of free and equal peoples? The British have much to be proud of.

    The opening ceremonies for the Vancouver Olympics electrified us as a nation; and the performance of our athletes has brought us together as people. We are a funny country, drawn from so many backgrounds and ethnic groups; divided hugely by a language barrier that creates a cultural barrier and threatens our long term survival as a united federation. But for now, today, with Gold in hand, we celebrate having created something new and exciting and full of promise as well as accomplishment. To my fellow Canadians: this is a moment to remember!

  • Comment number 99.

    For all those who think Canada is such a united country in Olympic times think again.

    The first 4 days of press coverage in the french province of Quebec were mostly dedicated to the absence of the countries second official language in the opening ceremonies. Of course, the same will be true with the closing ceremonies as a majority of Canadians couldn't care less about french Canadians and their second official language.

    Yes Québecers cheer for Canada but when they count their medals, many of them keep a distinct count for Québec and the ROC.

  • Comment number 100.

    92. angus maciver

    Pull apart! We are already separate nations.
    Really it's only a London based media blaring out how British we are that's holding us together. And most people are getting pretty fed up of that.

    So, you're in a land of rainbows there ;-)
    We don't want 'Britain' anymore. It's past its sell by date. The brolly brigade are appropriately black and white. I'll support a care home, but lets move on...

    93. angus maciver

    That's got sod all to do with it. They would have fought whatever the banner was, British or if it was another one they'd lived under. (Unless you're saying they wouldn't have fought except if it was for 'Britain'?) Your romancing is showing your bias.

    'Britain' is dead. It's tough for clingers on to accept, but it's the way it is...


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