If it costs so much for the world to safely amuse itself with "Games," can it possibly be worth it? In Bromont, 45 miles from Montreal, where most of the equestrian events will be held, the townspeople, some of whom refer to themselves as "prisoners," must wear photo ID cards about their necks in order to gain the privilege of walking down their own streets. One Olympic official, delivering an urgent message to the Argentinian team there, was accosted for parking in an unauthorized spot, and because he was unable to explain himself in French was beaten and had his arms roughly twisted by the police who accosted him. The sympathetic response from a police spokesman was that the gentleman was lucky that the incident did not happen during the Games, as then "he could have been shot."
In Montreal, at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel, where the bigwigs are sequestered, luggage is searched, and all visitors must enter through metal detectors; sometimes they are frisked as well. Sentries toting semi-automatic weapons abound at important sites, and here and there guard dogs prowl, sniffing for explosives. Montreal is an armed camp; Canada is split at home, insulted abroad. The Olympics are making it possible for countries around the world to talk of hate, and to work out four years of aggressions. Said New Zealand's Bill Holley, "I think one thing is certain: we are no longer competing to make friends."
At least one man still puts on a happy face: Mayor Jean Drapeau, the bold little dreamer who brought the Games to Montreal as the ultimate tribute to his beloved city. The mayor still talks about Baron Pierre de Coubertin and his original Olympic ideals. "The Olympic flame will be kept burning in Montreal," Drapeau says, his eyes twinkling, as the sunlight streams into his office salon. "The Olympics don't close on Aug. 1. Oh, the competition does, but I did not dedicate 13 years of my life to two weeks of competition. The spirit of the Olympics will stay with us, stay with Montreal, stay with Quebec, stay with Canada."
God help them all if it does.