"Athletes Should Get the First Jab", 14 Oct 2009, Calgary Herald, Page A8.
In today's Calgary Herald there is a report that the medical officer for the Canadian Olympic Committee is calling for Canada's Olympic Athletes to be at the front of the line for H1N1 vaccination.
"Dr. Bob McCormack, chief medical officer for Canadian Olympic Committee, said Tuesday that, although the policy may seem unfair to other at-risk groups for the flu, including pregnant women, the elderly and aboriginals, the country’s elite athletes should be safeguarded from sickness during their time on the international stage. ..
The example that will make most sense to Canadians is, what if the men’s hockey team got swine flu and were unable to achieve their goal of a gold medal? Canadians would be very disappointed,” said McCormack. "
I am not a fan of having public monies spent to host the Olympic Games at the best of times but to me, this story highlights how out of whack social values seem to be when it comes to the Olympics. This goes beyond the displacement of vulnerable low income groups during the construction period, the diversion of public money away from other less sexy spending categories like education, and the legacy of public debt that all Canadians will inevitably be saddled with after Vancouver. It goes beyond the affront to social justice encountered by female ski jumpers who are legally appealing their exclusion from the Vancouver games.
I guess what I am left wondering is exactly what value do Canadians put on Olympic medals. Is a gold medal in Men's hockey at the Olympics really a higher priority than preventing deaths amongst vulnerable members of our society?