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Awaiting the Olympic Games overflow

This travel writer is happy to watch the Games, and the sideshow, from her couch.

At least a few times a month for the past year, somebody has asked me, "So, are you going to the Olympics?" They're always somewhat surprised when I tell them that (a) I don't have tickets, (b) I don't have any place to stay, and (c) I'm happy to watch them from my cozy couch at home. Maybe they assume because I'm a travel journalist that I would be attending the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, which open Feb. 12 and run through Feb. 28.

Well, I didn't even consider applying for accreditation. With approximately 10,000 media expected to attend (2,800 press and support staff plus 7,000 broadcasters and technicians), I didn't think my Closet Canuck blog would stand a chance against somebody of the stature of Bob Costas (even though we're the same height).

And as excited as I am about having the Winter Games practically in my back yard, I'm OK with watching them on TV along with the 3 billion people worldwide who are expected to tune in. I realized more than a year ago that the hassle and expense of attending the XXI Olympic Winter Games wasn't worth it. In fact, I wrote about it in a previous Crosscut blog post. As Ron Judd points out in his Olympics Insider blog at seattletimes.com, with the Games a month away, "you'll have to have fairly deep pockets" to get tickets.

The only thing that really disappoints me is that I'm stuck with watching it on NBC. Although the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has typically broadcast the Winter Olympics across Canada, they didn't get the gig for 2010. Instead, CTV won the bid, and unlike the CBC it's not available in the state of Washington. No surprise that Comcast isn't carrying the Olympics via CTV, since the cable operator purchased NBC Universal in December.

I'm sure there are oodles of disappointed fans who won't be making the journey across the border to watch the athletes compete at the nine Olympic venues in Vancouver, West Vancouver, Cypress Mountain and Whistler. Even more distraught are the businesses that thought they would fill their rooms with travelers from afar while lining their coffers in Olympic gold. One community that hoped to benefit from the Winter Games was Squamish, B.C., located halfway between Vancouver and Whistler. Many of the town's residents aren't happy with what has turned out to be somewhat of a bust. In an article on the CBC News Web site, the headline says it all: B.C. town's Olympic dreams dashed.

Washington state businesses have done their fair share of trying to lure in some of the 250,000-350,000 visitors expected to attend. I've received dozens of press releases from hotel and resort people, urging travelers to pop in on their way to the 2010 Games. Here's just a sampling:

Stop and stay at Cedarbrook Lodge on the road to the Olympics (SeaTac)

Going for gold, silver and bronze at Hotel Bellwether (Bellingham)

Tulalip Resort Casino announces 2010 Winter Olympic Getaways (Quil Ceda Village)

Edgewater Hotel offers Winter Olympics packages for quick trips to Seattle (Seattle)

Discover the perfect Olympic escapes in Snohomish County, WA

Probably the strangest tie-in with the Olympics has developed right here where I live, on Whidbey Island. Two local residents pitched the idea of a new "Welcome to Langley" sign to be installed on Highway 525 in Clinton prior to the Games, hoping to snag Olympic visitors to the island's Village By the Sea. According to the South Whidbey Record, Eric Levine and Ed Jenkins wanted "to capture the attention of drivers taking the scenic route to Vancouver in British Columbia." Sounds like a bit of a torch dream to me.

Sort of like me sharing a desk with Bob Costas.

Sue Frause is a Whidbey Island freelance writer and photographer. You can reach her at sue@suefrause.com.


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