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Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Case Against Canada

March 1, 2010 by Adam Montgomery Lampert · 1 Comment 

It’s not easy to make a case for pressing charges against an organization like the International Olympic Committee, or a human-rights-friendly host country like Canada. But if UNICEF killed a gaggle of Cancun spring-breakers with an errant aerial shipment of Patriots 19-0 t-shirts, we would all be fuming. So why the hell are they getting a free pass for killing an Olympic athlete with a light pole?

Let’s review the facts:

  1. Multiple Olympians complained about the track’s safety, even before the death of Kumaritashvili. And dangerous crashes occurred before his death, even by the eventual Olympic champion.
  2. As a part of its “Own The Podium” effort to increase Canada’s chances of winning as many gold medals as possible as a hosting nation, Canada limited access to its facilities for all visiting countries. Kumaritashvili had only practiced the course that killed him a fraction of the number of times that native athletes were allowed.
  3. No precautionary measures were taken for potential crash situations until it was too late. Now that Kumaritashvili is dead, the track and its surrounding fatal obstructions have been modified and padded to reduce the probability of death upon collision/crash. Why wasn’t this done before the course killed somebody?

Pointing fingers in a precise manner is difficult, but in vague terms the fault for the athlete’s death seems to lay squarely on host nation Canada’s shoulders for limiting access and the IOC for designing and allowing an apparently incredibly dangerous luge course without taking proper precautions.

There should be no point during any Olympic sport at which the probability of death is more than incredibly low. Although it is possible for an athlete to kill himself or herself doing almost anything, it should not be possible for a single split-second error by an athlete to cause his own death, in any sport. Designing and implementing a luge course with a chance of death this high is equivalent to placing a series of concrete turrets within arms length of a giant slalom course. But in reality skiers crash all the time without serious incident. They fall, catch an edge, tumble, and slide into safety-enhancing surrounding netting that helps them not to die. But crashes on luge courses do not normally result in an athlete being tossed over the wall of a turn, which is why no safety netting exists for luge. Only the unusually high level of speed and danger of this particular course increased the likelihood of an “extreme” crash which led to Kumaritashvili’s eventual light-pole collision, for which he was ill-prepared due to Canada’s attempts to glorify its own athletes.

No doubt the family of the deceased is wondering how the simple pursuit of a sport’s intended purpose killed their beloved. The responsible parties should be held accountable.

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One Response to “The Case Against Canada”
  1. allsport33 says:

    I agree, this is a terribly sad moment in modern Olympic history. We should be doing everything possible to ensure that athletes are able to pursue worthy athletic feats without fear of death. Check out this list of athletes/team members killed during the Winter Olympics:


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