At precisely 6:16 p.m. yesterday, former TTC employee and 1948 Olympic gold medalist Murray Dowey was supposed to receive the 2010 Olympic torch at Yonge and College. Adam Giambrone (Ward 18, Davenport) was waiting on a 506 streetcar just east of the intersection, ready for Dowey to board the Toronto icon, torch in hand, and travel to Elizabeth Street. Hundreds of Torontonians lined Yonge Street with Canadian flags and coffee mugs, eagerly awaiting their glimpse of the Olympic symbol as it made its way south. But they all left disappointed—the torch never arrived.
Just as the anticipation was reaching its peak, a group of a hundred or more demonstrators crashed the party. Chanting “No Olympics on stolen native land,” the protestors broke through the police barricades and made their way north on Yonge, stalling and eventually bringing the torch procession to a halt. After several minutes of inaction, the motorcade was rerouted along Wellesley, and the torch was split in two in order to accommodate a scheduled visit to Sick Kids Hospital, and to appease the growing impatient crowd at Nathan Philips Square. In the end, there were more cops at Yonge and College than Olympic fans, as most of the spectators headed to warmer places.
The demonstration primarily consisted of members from the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, No 2010, No Games Toronto, and No One Is Illegal.
People waiting to see the torch at Yonge and College.
We here at Torontoist are not against demonstrations. They’re a central facet of democracy, and have played vital roles in pushing social and political change. And we sympathize with many of the cries of these protestors: it’s true that the Olympics are costing British Columbia and Canada quite a bit of dough. It’s also true that corporations partly fund them, and that they have already caused environmental damage with the building of new facilities and transportation routes.
Demonstrations like yesterday’s, though, won’t do anything to affect whether the Olympics run or not: let’s face it, the Olympics are happening. It’s a done deal. What the demonstration did manage to do was dampen the city’s Olympic spirit, and entirely ruin what would have been a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many Torontonians. But we imagine that that was partially the point of the protests in the first place: the protesters may not control the outcome, but they can control the journey.
The torch will be in Toronto for another two days, so there’s lots of time to get your Olympic fix. You can check out the route here [PDF]. In the meantime, someone should tell Adam Giambrone that the torch isn’t coming.
All photos by Nick Kozak/Torontoist