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Whose Games? Occupy London to join Counter Olympic Network protest on Saturday

 

Occupy London will this Saturday 28 July join more than 40 groups protesting against the Olympics for the ‘Whose Games? Whose City?’ demonstration, organised by the Counter Olympics Network. 

“The Olympics are meant to be a celebration of human endeavour. However the ‘people’s games’ in London are subject to the whims of global corporations and financial institutions who seek to ‘legally’ avoid tax and saturate sport with their own marketing in an attempt to sanitise their reputations, never mind limiting ticket availability and securing VIP lanes,” commented Occupy London supporter Kate Morris.

Assembling in Mile End Park in East London at noon, the Whose Games? Whose City? demonstration will march to Wennington Green for a family friendly event including speeches, entertainment, alternative games and children’s events. [1] There is no intention to cause disruption to the Games.

Individual Occupy London supporters are also involved in autonomous groups and actions related to the Olympics including Save Leyton Marshes, GamesMonitor, Bread and Circuses, Greenwash Gold, Our Olympics, Stop the Olympic Missile Campaign, No to G4S, War on Want, Drop Dow Now and Space Hijackers. [2]

“Despite the corporate dominance of the games, the estimated cost to the taxpayer ranges from 11 to 24 billion pounds – all while the UK is falling deeper into recession and Brits continue to be forced to bear austerity cuts for a crisis they didn’t cause,” added Kate.

“Just as the creation of HMRC-sanctioned temporary Olympic tax haven in the East End of London has shown, the real value and motivations of the corporate sponsors and LOCOG should be questioned. Who really is benefiting from these games?” [3, 14]

Londoners hit 

The Olympic machine has steamrollered Londoners in more ways than just the ‘Olympic Road Network’ with its VIP lanes. Leyton Marsh residents have been fighting to keep their green spaces [4], while others close to the Olympic village have had surface-to-air missiles stationed on their homes [5], or have been evicted or priced out of their neighbourhoods. [6]

The government has reduced civil liberties – including the right to protest against the commodification of the Olympics and its effect on local communities. [7] Strict bail conditions and anti-social behaviour orders have been given to protesters, banning them from the vicinity of Olympic sites. [8] Despite this clampdown, activists assert the right to peacefully assemble and protest – a crucial right in a democracy, even if the Olympic circus is in town.

Criticism of the Corporate Games

Corporate sponsors of the games, including ArcelorMittal, BP, Dow Chemical, Lloyds and Rio Tinto, have been shown to engage in destructive practises around the globe, including ecological destruction, labour and human rights abuses, biological and chemical weapon production, and creation of the banking crisis. [9-13]

The steel giant ArcelorMittal, main sponsor of the Orbit Tower beside the stadium, has recently been accused of numerous injustices, with survivors from the concentration camp in Omarska in Bosnia recently giving a press conference about how ArcelorMittal has dishonoured the dead and been complicit in a denial of the atrocities in the town. [9] BP has been chosen as the Games’ sustainability partner despite its appalling environmental record. [10] Dow Chemical, the creator of Agent Orange and Napalm, was responsible for the 1984 Bhopal chemical spill, which is killing people to this day. [11] Subsequently bailed out, Lloyds TSB was blamed for investing in toxic loans, which created the financial crisis. [12] Rio Tinto, provider of the metals for the Olympic medals, is under investigation for war crimes and human rights violations, and has been blacklisted by the Norwegian Government because of environmental concerns [13].

 

Notes
[1] Counter Olympics Network – Critics of London Olympics announce large scale event to coincide with first Saturday of the Games - http://counterolympicsnetwork.wordpress.com/2012/06/24/press-release-from-counter-olympics-network/; Facebook event - https://www.facebook.com/events/291553350941427/
[2] Links to other groups and sources:
[3] UK Parliament – Committee reports on preparations for London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games -  http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/public-accounts-committee/news/olympics-report/; Daily Mail: Cost of Olympics to spiral to £24 billion http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2092077/London-2012-Olympics-cost-spiral-24bn–10-TIMES-higher-2005-estimate.html
[4] Games Monitor – Leyton Marsh Basketball landgrab documents  http://www.gamesmonitor.org.uk/node/1479
[5] The Independent – Judge rejects bid to stop Olympic rooftop missiles http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/judge-rejects-bid-to-stop-olympic-rooftop-missiles-7932339.html
[6] Daily Mail – Tenants living near Olympic site facing last minute eviction as landlords cash in on the games. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2141424/London-2012-Olympics-Tenants-facing-minute-eviction-landlords-cash-in.html
[7] The Guardian – Police powers for 2012 Olympics alarm critics http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/jul/21/olympics2012-civil-liberties
[8] The Guardian -  Protester receives Olympics asbo http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/apr/17/protester-receives-olympic-asbo
[9] ArcelorMittal:
[10] BP:
[11] Dow Chemical:
[12] Lloyds TSB:
[13] Rio Tinto:
[14] Overview corporate sponsors and tax havens: Games Monitor – London 2012 Olympic’s shameful corporate sponsors http://gamesmonitor.org.uk/node/1609 / The Great Olympic tax swindle http://falseeconomy.org.uk/blog/the-great-olympic-tax-swindle / 38 Degress petition http://38d.gs/taxolympics
 
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