On Olympic security and having a beard – Inside the 2010 Olympics, Feb. 6, 2009, By Jeff Lee
NOTE: Respectfully shared in full for historical record and educational use. Original links and date intact for context.
I see my friend Ron Judd over at the Seattle Times has already noted that the un-funny accreditation volunteers for the 2010 Olympics test event for figure skating don’t want people smiling when they sit down for the obligatory mug shots.
I encountered a slightly different issue when I went to pick up my accreditation pass for the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships at the Coliseum; they were confused by my new (but really, old) facial hair.
I’ve had a beard, on and off (but mostly on) for the better part of 20 years. It’s a holdover of my feeblle attempts to be somewhat urbane – I gave up the pipe and imported Scottish tobacco a long time ago.
Every once in a very blue moon I’ll peel the beard off until I see the double chin and then, with a scream, try to grow it back in a day. I last shaved the fur off in October, 2007 for what I thought would be a few months, but at a December media event CTV Olympic reporter Mike Killeen unkindly predicted I would grow the beard back within a year.
At that point my generous streak of contrariness kicked into overdrive and I decided not to grow the beard back for a year. Unfortunately, that coincided with severl milestones: the issuance of a new passport, a new driver’s license and the Chinese visa for the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing. All of which now have a different-looking chap pictured. At The Sun we also started using some of my furless faces to decorate promos.
Being beardless had some minor advantages. I could sneak into scrums and be ignored for all of two minutes. I could get through airport security a tad faster without being racially profiled. (I’ve always resisted telling the screeners my middle name is Osama. They have NO sense of humor.)
I began growing the beard back early this year. Unfortunately, the images out there now all contain a much smoother-looking me, and so when I went to get my accreditation, the friendly volunteer matter-of-factly explained I would have to have another photo taken. It turns out they don’t like faces on passes that confuse them. No smiling. No beardless wonders when bearded is what they see.
Wonder what would happen if I shaved it off tomorrow. Would I get arrested or simply thrown out?