Activists stage Poverty Olympics in Downtown Eastside
The 2010 Poverty Olympics took place Sunday in the Downtown Eastside. They 'reflect the unique local flavour of the 2010 host city,' according to organizers.Photograph by: Nick Procaylo, PNG, The ProvinceAnti-poverty activists staged a successful Poverty Olympics in Vancouver's poverty-stricken Downtown Eastside on Sunday afternoon.
"If the money that was spent on the Olympics had been spent to end poverty and homelessness it could have been done by now," said organizer Jean Swanson.
She said 600 to 700 spectators took in the Games -- three skits titled The Housing Hurdles, The Broken Promise Slalom and Wrestling for Community and a mock hockey game between the Pigeon Park Eagles and the VANOC Predators. "The ref was totally in favour of the VANOC Predators, but the Pigeon Park folks won any way," chuckled Swanson.
She said the most popular skit featured four local children wrestling with "the evil developer" for control of the community. "The kids won. They ended up sitting on the developer with their hands in the air in victory," said Swanson. "The audience was cheering and cheering."
The fun and games began when the Poverty Olympics torch arrived after a one-week, 100-kilometre route through Greater Vancouver. The torch, weighing 200 pounds and standing 12 feet tall, held a sign reading, "End the Poverty." It was pushed around on a hospital gurney.
The crowd overwhelmed the site -- the Japanese Hall in the 400-block Alexander Street. "For a while we had to keep people from coming in because it was too packed," said Swanson. She said international media from Britain, France and Germany joined U.S. journalists from the Wall Street Journal and USA Today at the events.