By Hannah Stein
Photo courtesy of Thomas Scott

From February 12-18th we will be hosting the Olympic games here in Vancouver, Canada. It will be our third year hosting the Olympic games in history. The 2010 Olympics has a lot of excitement and interest surrounding it. We are proud to host this Olympic celebration of athletes. Canada has the honour of holding the longest baton relay route in the history of the Olympics Games. The honour and excitement of world are upon us. Canada has a mandate to ensure that this year’s games are like none other before and that they our unique to Canada. We should be considering sponsorship opportunities that reflect are unique identity.

The official restaurant of the Olympic games this year is McDonald’s. I find the fact that Canada has permitted this fast food chain to take on the major sponsorship at the games as wrong and immoral, especially when you consider what kind of image Canadians want to presents to the world. The entire world is looking at what Canada has to offer on every level including our food culture. I believe we should be introducing them to the positive parts of Canada, the food that we are known for and our indigenous culture. I have to ask the question, why is McDonald’s being given this sponsorship opportunity when they are not unique to Canada and are not a representation of our food culture?

This year at the Olympic games Canada has the chance to give the world a taste of our food culture. We have a food culture and food industry that are unique to Canada and that make us unique to the world. We should be making the Olympic games an opportunity showcase our food culture. In that case why are we sending the message that Mc Donald’s (a fast food chain restaurant) is feeding the athletes at our the 2010 Olympic games? Is that the culture that we want represented to the world?

The Approximated costs of this years’ Olympic games is $1.75 billion. A large amount of this expense will be billed to taxpayers, estimated in 2007 to be CAN$580 million. We need to remember that the Olympic games are supported by the taxpayers. As a result we should have the power to choose where how are money is spent and with whom we choose to partner with. When we pay our taxes to the government we expect that money to be benefiting our own country or representing our identity. Then why are we spending money supporting an event where the major sponsor is a fast food chain? If we are expected to pay taxes towards events like the Olympic games, we should have a voice and an opinion on how that money is spent and organization we choose to align ourselves with.

This also makes me think, what does this whole problem come down to? The athletes. Canadian athletes are selling themselves out to big corporation, like McDonald’s, who we have chosen as a major supporter of this event. A Canadian Olympic snowboarder Crispin Lipscomb was noted for the huge sponsorship deal he had landed with McDonald’s. I find this completely wrong. The McDonald’s corporation has contracted Crispin and many other Canadian athletes to tell the world that there eating McDonald’s and are proud of it. Any athlete training for the Olympic games could never risk eating a diet consisting of fast food. (ie. McDonald’s). They have to stay on a strict diet to keep their weight perfect for training and competition. There is no way they are living up to the things they are telling us from the televisions all over the world that they value McDonalds as a nutritious meal. Who could possibly be proud to say you value a way of eating that is not possible for an athletic when we suspect it is simply for the money they obtain through endorsements. Where is the dignity and pride that we want to see in all of our Canadian athletes that are representing Canada itself at the Olympic games? McDonalds presents a false value to our youth in telling us that a McDonald’s meal is nutritious and a substitute for real food. This can potentially have a long-term impact on the health of our future generation.

Some of the endorsements that have been quoted in the press by McDonalds:

-“We’re so excited to have Canada host the 2010 Olympic Winter Games that we wanted to celebrate this moment in time and share this feeling of national pride with our customers,” said John Betts, President of McDonald’s Canada.

-“Athletes continue to tell us they love our quality food when training or celebrating wins at the Games, and it’s one of the reasons we’re proud to be the only brand serving them as the Official Restaurant of the Olympic games,” said Dillon. “We’re thrilled our food can play a special role in their lives and for our more than 58 million customers every day around the world.”

I believe that what McDonald’s is bringing to this years Olympic games is immoral and presents a negative image to the food culture we have to offer here in Canada. McDonald as a sponsor of the Olympic games brings a false image to our athletes and takes advantage of the hard work that has been put into this event. As Canadians we should be promoting the food culture that we are proud of. We should be supporting the people and the businesses that reflect what Canadian food culture is.

Hannah Stein is a 12 year old that believes in ethical integrity. She is a curious food activist that likes to dance and sing to Lady Gaga.