BARtalk #10: The Olympic Spirit

Design by Arianna Mao/AMS

Design by Arianna Mao/AMS

What is the ‘Olympic spirit?’
6:00PM, Thursday, February 13th

Is it a celebration of tremendous human achievement? Can it break down cultural barriers, build national identity, and spark local economies?

Or is it the ‘Olympic spirit’ a 50 billion dollar spectacle that facilitates corruption, displacement, environmental degradation, and human rights abuses?

With a price tag of $50 billion and counting, the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games will be the most expensive Olympic event in history. Some are even calling for a boycott of the Sochi Games, citing Russia’s recent anti-gay law and attacks on the LGBT community. Despite the costs, cities still compete vigorously to host this event every four years, and many corporations still line-up to sponsor the Olympic Games.

But is it worth it? Do countries really gain anything from organizing the Olympic Games? Can we use the Olympics as a tool to generate political and social change? Should we boycott them? Should we even be paying attention to them?


  • Jake Wetzel is a former Olympic athlete and a doctoral student at the Sauder School of Business. He co-authored a UBC study looking into the economic effects of the Olympic games on real-estate prices and the urban economy.
  • Margot Young is an associate professor of law at UBC. Her research interests include social justice, human rights, gender and sports.
  • Robert VanWynsberghe is an assistant professor in the UBC Department of Educational Studies. He led the 2010 Olympic Games Impact study looking into the long-term effects of hosting an Olympics event. His report concluded that locals enjoy the biggest benefits of hosting the Games including better transit and facilities.
  • Chris Shaw is a professor of ophthalmology at UBC and has been a vocal critic of the Olympic games for many years. He is also the author of the book “Five Ring Circus: Myths and Realities of the Olympic Games”
  • and hosted by Gordon Katic (@gord_katic)

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Gordon Katic (@gordonkatic) has been student coordinator for the Terry Project for over two years, and in that time started BARtalk, and the Terry Project on CiTR 101.9FM. A former Ubyssey columnist, and now a student at the UBC Graduate School of Journalism, Gordon is trying to use journalism to tell important stories about global issues.