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Games open in Vancouver, military assault launched in Afghanistan

The Canwest News Service reports this morning that, “At the exact moment their countrymen were watching the opening ceremonies at the Vancouver Winter Olympics, Canadian aviators were among the nearly 20,000 NATO and Afghan troops launching NATO’s biggest offensive yet against the Taliban and al-Qaeda.”

The Globe and Mail reports it is “the largest air operation of the war and the biggest mission Canadian helicopters have ever flown.”

The Council of Canadians had called on the United Nations General Assembly to pass the traditional Olympic Truce resolution this past October, to echo the practice of the ancient Greeks who set aside their weapons every four years to compete peacefully at the Olympic Games.

We had also demanded that Prime Minister Stephen Harper stop Canadian offensive military operations in Afghanistan during the Games as a first step to a complete withdrawal from that war.

Canada and VANOC refused to support the call for a truce and instead put forward a UN resolution that stated, “We appeal to UN member states to use sport as a tool to promote peace, dialogue and reconciliation in areas of conflict during and beyond the Olympic Games period.”

As the war raged in Afghanistan yesterday, the opening ceremony (which along with the closing ceremony on February 28 will cost $40 million) took place in Vancouver.

The CBC reports that an estimated 1,500 protesters (the real number is likely higher) marched to within 200 metres of BC Place stadium and the operning ceremony. “Placards carried by the demonstrators suggested many disagreed with spending taxpayer money on the Games instead of targeting social problems. Organizers said they wanted the protest to remain peaceful.”