Uniting a (very big) country

Talking to a Canadian friend recently, I naturally asked whether he had enjoyed the Winter Olympics. "It was 3,000 miles away" was his response.

Based where he is in Toronto he is almost as close to Europe as he is to Vancouver, which is "always the challenge", he says, as "how do you get any sense of community or national pride in such a huge country?"

However, the excitement of the Games had gripped the entire nation and even as a non-sports fan, he had been caught up in the party atmosphere. He spoke without embarrassment about the "own the podium" campaign and described sitting with his family, glued to the TV set, as Canada finally triumphed over USA is the ice hockey final.

Talking of the USA, there is a whisper that not withstanding the heavy defeat of its Chicago bid to stage the 2016 summer Games, American Olympic hosting ambition is far from extinguished. A source close to VANOC predicted they would bounce back; maybe not next time and maybe starting with a bid for the winter edition, but they would be back.

Perhaps looking over the fence and seeing what the Olympics has done for its neighbour has persuaded Americans (and the all-important US TV networks) that the prize really is worth winning even for a superpower.

But, here’s a question: how long will the feel-good factor last in Canada?

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