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Ron Judd's Olympics Insider

Ron Judd, an Olympics junkie and Seattle Times columnist who has covered Olympic sports since 1997, will use this space to serve up news and opinion on the Summer and Winter Games -- also inviting you to chime in on Planet Earth's biggest get-together.

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June 18, 2008 7:09 PM

Manitoba, stubborn holdout for 2010 "Canada Games," capitulates

Posted by Ron Judd

It's official: Manitoba has surrendered.

The obscure Canadian province (set your Google Earth pointer to that big space between Saskatchewan and Ontario), a land loved by Canadians for its inhospitable terrain, extreme temperatures and angry mosquitoes, finally raised the white flag over Winnipeg today in March (see correction above.)

The message, translated from the original prairie Canadian: "Ah, to hell with it. Cue that Bryan Adams song. We give. Vancouver 2010, here we come!"

Manitoba was the last second to last province/territory to sign on as a sponsoring participant of the 2010 Winter Games, at long last bringing the entire, mostly frozen nation into the clutches of the feel-good peddlers at VANOC, the Games' organizing committee. (An earlier holdout, the Northwest Territories, reportedly caved after Games organizers threatened to affix a cowboy hat and bandanna to Illanaaq, the famous Inuit "inukshuk" statue that has become the Games' official emblem, and is available now on a full line of fine products that embody the Olympic spirit, including bar coasters and edible underpants.)

VANOC officials say the capitulation of Manitoba -- the flag of which, curiously, features a British red ensign in what appears to be a standoff with an ill-tempered bison** -- officially makes the Olympics "Canada's Games." To which we can only say: Bravo. This everybody's-on-board ethic is what the event really should be all about, and besides which, will come in really handy when someone in Ottawa gets the final bill for cost overruns.

According to VANOC, each contract signed with a province or territory is unique, but they tend to outline "a number of potential areas where the province ... can collaborate with VANOC to successfully deliver the Games."

Our sources in Vancouver say the province has pledged to provide the following Games services in exchange for what is rumored to be 14 beer-obstructed seats to the hockey gold medal game:

-- Sports medicine expertise from the Birtle, Manitoba General Hospital, described by town fathers as being "surprisingly full-featured for a town of this size (690)."

-- Twelve bushels of rust-resistant wheat.

-- Free Illanaaq bar coaster ads in The Uniter, the University of Winnipeg student newspaper.

-- Two barrels of canola oil signed by every member of the 2002 Brandon Wheat Kings.

-- Lifetime supply of "vegetable product" for snowboard gold medalist Ross Rebagliati from secret underground government medicinal marijuana farm in Flin Flon (You think we would kid about this? Ha.)


We're still trying to find out what Newfoundland and Labrador will bring to the table that is not fish-related. Stay tuned.

** Note: For a delightful image of a design that won a newspaper-sponsored contest to replace the old Manitoba flag with a hipper new one, see the picture of a large bison apparently breaking wind here.

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