Olympics Open with ‘Going Green’ Debate and Medal Predictions

BY Anna Shoup  February 12, 2010 at 2:38 PM EDT

The 2010 Winter Olympics kick off Friday night in Vancouver, British Columbia, where representatives from around the world set aside differences for a battle of athletics.

But it’s not all fun and games: Seattle’s KCTS uncovers another side of the Olympics where residents in the Canadian city of Whistler say the environment is losing in competition with development. Some blame Olympic preparations for cutting down trees to make way for venues, disrupting wetlands to build a hydrogen refueling station and building energy-wasting venues. The Vancouver Games’ planners have touted their sustainability efforts but residents have still found faults. Watch the full report:

Traveling to the Olympics? KCTS is still looking for citizen journalists to send their Vancouver experiences in video, text, tweets or photos. Be sure to still follow Olympians from afar with National Public Radio’s lists of athletes on Twitter.

If you’re a medal counter, take some tips from Daniel Johnson, a Colorado College economics professor who created a formula that predicts — with 95 percent accuracy — which country will take home the most medals.

“It doesn’t explicitly include athletic information,” Johnson told Colorado Public Radio’s Ryan Warner. “Obviously the true story of the games is athletics. That’s the reason we watch. But on another level, it’s actually about resources. It’s about how enabled athletes are to show their true abilities.”

Johnson used five criteria: population, per capita income, climate, political structure and host nation advantage. This year, the formula predicts Canada will win 27 medals. For gold medals, Russia is predicted to win nine, ahead of Germany’s eight. The United States is expected to garner 26 medals including five golds, Johnson said.

And of course, you might expect a bit of politics surrounding a global sporting event. In Washington, D.C., WAMU’s Kojo Namdi digs into the frosty relationship between the United States Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee. Namdi spoke with Matthew Futterman of the Wall Street journal and Chris Welton, the CEO of Helios Partners about the U.S. bid to host the Olympics and the politics involved.

For more Olympics coverage, tune into Friday’s NewsHour for an interview with sports columnist Christine Brennan in Vancouver and a profile on Chris Klug, a U.S. snowboarder competing in the games.