This is a curious selection on a number of fronts, but I have to wonder if Schwarzenegger is getting some overdue payback for his past connection to the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Village.
If you read VANOC's "defense" of selecting Schwarzenegger, it does not appear VANOC CEO John Furlong has any idea about Arnold Schwarzenegger's Olympic connections from 13 years ago.
During the summer of 1996, Atlanta's Olympic Village was the site of the world premiere of Arnold's film "Eraser" -- as an Olympic Village employee that summer, it was my understanding that Olympian Willie Banks, the entertainment manager for the Village, secured this entertainment offering that was screened with thousands of athletes viewing a big screen on the field at Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium.
As a witness to Arnold's arrival and speech to the athletes (with "Eraser" co-star Vanessa Williams), it was surprising to learn (and I am certain those in attendance on Friday in Vancouver will concur) that Schwarzenegger is shorter than he appears in most of his films (at the moment, I don't believe sources that report Arnold at more than six feet tall). But he did share some inspiring remarks with the Olympians, who were thrilled to see him in person (it was pretty darn cool that he made time to meet the athletes that summer). Of course,
Schwarzenegger stated at the event, "I'll be back" -- maybe even then he knew something regarding planned or offered torchbearer activation?
"Eraser" turned out to be an utterly forgettable film, but it is remotely possible the IOC or other Olympic Torch Relay officials recalled Arnold's past Olympic ties and presented the honor of torchbearer duties to Mr. Olympia (oh, yeah, there's that Olympic connection, too).
Hopefully the only "juice" Schwarzenegger will take (for carrying the torch) will be some product from Atlanta's hometown beverage bottler (which happens to be a co-presenter of the Olympic Torch Relay).
See you at Stanley Park!
Photo via the Globe And Mail and Associated Press