Special Report | Want to cleanse your city of its poor? Host the Olympics

Hosting the Olympics is often presented to us as an ideologically neutral opportunity to boost tourism and sports. In a thought-provoking piece Ceasefire Magazine's Ashok Kumar outlines a clear and consistent, yet barely noticed, pattern of the Games being used to fundamentally restructure the host City to the purposeful exclusion of its working class and ethnic minority residents.

New in Ceasefire, Olympics Watch, Special Reports - Posted on Thursday, April 12, 2012 12:00 - 72 Comments

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As London prepares to host the 2012 Summer Olympics, startlingly little critique has surfaced in the mainstream press. With the exception of the trivial issue of ticket prices, most of the city remains transfixed, internalising the dominant narrative. This process precedes each Olympic games, one that is written and distributed by and for the real Olympic profiteers; a nexus of powerful interests that sees both short and long term gains in each host city.

This highly profitable, publicly subsidised, sporting event always attracts the major, and wannabe major, cities of the world, using any and all methods to entice an unaccountable Olympic committee, each flexing their political muscle to ensure theirs is the next chosen location. The Olympics take billions of pounds, yen, dollars of their host countries’ tax revenue to build magnificent stadiums and housing facilities, militarise the city, trample civil liberties and construct elaborate installations with shelf lives of a few weeks.

London 2012, originally expected to cost £2.4bn, is now projected at £24bn, with contracts going to some of the world’s most egregious employers and global human rights violators. Some on the left have been critical of the massive transfer from public to private at a time of austerity. The London overspend has been portrayed by officials as a one-off, but a glance at the history of the Olympics shows that underestimating the cost is a consistent part of the Olympic experience.

The 1976 Montreal Olympics took over 30 years to pay off the debt it accumulated as a result of its overspend; the 2004 Athens Olympics grew almost a hundred-fold over budget from €123m (£100m)  to €11.5bn (£9.5bn) in costs significantly contributing to Greece’s deficit, and the 2010 Vancouver Olympics ended up spending six times the original projection of $1bn. In fact, barring the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics – where bottom-up pressure meant zero public dollars were expended on the games, thus securing a $233 million surplus for the city – the Olympic games always exceed their projected expense, saddling cities with years of debt – often paid back through cuts in services, regressive taxes and increased fares.

But the real gains for the rich can be witnessed in the long-term implications, once the crowds have gone home. Contrary to popular belief, the devastation inflicted on the poorest and historically marginalised communities is not simply an adverse side-effect, but goes to the very essence of why cities battle to host the Games.

In recent days attention has been given to London’s policy of ‘cleaning the streets’ of sex workers and other undesirable elements in the lead up to the games. This should come as no surprise to students of history, and if the past two decades are any indication, this is only the beginning of a comprehensive strategy to restructure the character, makeup and politics of the city. Everywhere the Games injects itself, the story remains the same; beginning with the easy targets – sex workers and the homeless – the decision-makers soon move towards driving out ethnic minority and working class residents from their city.

A common tactic is to deny any connection between the policies themselves and the Olympics. As with the sex workers of London, who have been victimised by ten times the levels of raids in the five Olympic boroughs compared to the rest of London, the authorities have repeated the claim that the beefed-up efforts are ‘not related to the Olympics’ but to growing ‘community concern’.

The Olympics have always been utilised as a means to pursue what David Harvey calls ‘accumulation by dispossession,’ from visible policies of forced evictions to veiled ones such as gentrification. This violent process is intimately connected to reconfiguring the landscape for capital accumulation and, indeed, is a prime motivation for the very purpose of the Olympics itself.

The Games are not simply hosted to ‘clean up’ the city, but to fundamentally reconfigure it, to ‘cleanse’ it of its poor and undesirable; to not only make way for a city by and for the rich, but to expand the terrain of profitable activity.

Sanitising the City

In order to understand where London is headed it’s important to understand the history of Olympic games and the ways in which they have restructured the economic landscapes of their respective host cities.

In 2007, the UN-funded Centre for Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) released a report detailing the effects of the Olympics between 1988 and 2008. It concluded that the Olympic games, having evicted more then two million people in the past twenty years, are one of the top causes of displacement and real-estate inflation in the world.

The research details that the levels of forced displacement have increased in each successive city. The 1988 Seoul games witnessed the eviction of 720,000 people, where it was used by the military dictatorship to turn Seoul from a city maintained by and for its people into a corporate city owned by the privileged. The 2008 Beijing Olympics oversaw the eviction of 1.25 million residents to make way for the games.

Predictably, the report shows that the evictions disproportionally affect the homeless, the poor and ethnic minorities. Beyond forced displacement, the Olympics succeed in longer-term economic displacement of working class areas of host cities. The COHRE report shows that the Olympics significantly accelerate the process of inflating real-estate prices. For instance, in Sydney, host to the 2000 games, rents increased by an astounding 40%, between 1993, the year it was selected, and 1998. Whereas in the same period, neighboring city Melbourne saw only a 10% rise.

The 1996 Atlanta Olympics resulted in the demolishing of 2,000 public housing units – evicting 6,000 residents, in addition to the 30,000 residents who were displaced as a direct result of gentrification brought on by the Olympic ‘development’. Indeed, as if to say that the poor and black of Atlanta had not suffered enough, the city issued over 9,000 arrest citations for the city’s homeless population as part of a concerted ‘clean up’ effort, a kind of ‘two-week face lift’.

At the time, the New York Times reported that the Atlanta urban renewal projects saw ‘virtually every aspect of Atlanta’s civic life transformed’. In the Summerhill neighborhood adjacent to the Olympic stadium, for example, 200 slum houses had been levelled, while “clean, colorful subdivisions have risen in their place”. As one business owner candidly explained, speaking of the poor and homeless “even if it means busing these poor guys to Augusta for three weeks and feeding them, we ought to do it.  It sounds very brutal for me to say it, but they can’t stay here for the Olympics.”

A similar trend is found in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics in which the COHRE study found that, in addition to the 2,500 evictions, housing prices rose 139% for sale and 145% for rentals in the period from 1986, the year it was selected to 1993. The same period saw a 76% decrease in public housing availability. In addition, the areas surrounding the Olympic Village site witnessed the displacement of over 90% of its Roma population.

The 2008 Beijing Olympics saw the forced displacement of 1.5 million residents, impacting the poorest rural migrants  living in the city’s outskirts, with watchdog groups claiming that the relocation saw declines in living conditions by as much as 20%.  The 2010 Vancouver Games targeted the homeless, indigenous, and women with eviction notices, criminalising  begging and sleeping outdoors, and introducing a law banning placards, banners or posters that do not ‘celebrate’ the Olympics or ‘create or enhance a festive environment and atmosphere’.

Policies of ‘cleansing’ have already begun in the favelas that encircle the city of Rio de Janeiro. Already 6,000 poor residents have been forcibly evicted at gun-point, as part of the government policy of ‘pacification’ involving over 3,000 military personal invading to ‘take control’ of the slum areas. This has resulted in street battles and the death of more than 30 residents. The Associated Press has shown that in 2010 alone,  170,000 people were facing housing loss due to the double threat of the 2016 Olympics and 2014 World Cup.

The Right To the City

Harvey (2008) sees the right to the city as more than the liberty of individuals to access the resources of the city. It is the collective right to exercise power to shape, transform and remake the process of urbanisation. To Harvey “the freedom to make and remake our cities and ourselves is one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights.”

Some tepid liberals have spoken in hushed tones about the billions bilked from the public purse, and Citizens UK, the country’s largest community organisation, has astonishingly traded the plunder of areas where many of its members reside for a few crumbs to entrench its trademark ‘living wage Olympics’. Few in the mainstream have taken issue with the crises of housing prices and evictions.

Harvey (2008) argues that the development of capitalism is intimately connected to the emergence of cities, which require a concentration and endless search of profitable terrains for capital-surplus product with a cycle of compounded extraction, reinvestment, and expansion, hence “the history of capital accumulation paralleled by the growth path of urbanization under capitalism.”

The border of the London Olympic Park crosses some of the most working class areas in the country, and it is by no coincidence that every Olympic city chooses to situate its site in its poorest neighbourhoods. The targeted areas, such as London’s East End, LA’s South Central or Chicago’s South Side are not only the poorest but also have the highest concentrations of non-white people in each city.

In London’s case the borough of Newham, home of the Olympic Village, is the most ethnically diverse district in the country. In London’s East End, the process of forced evictions began immediately after the bid was announced with the demolishing of Clays Lane Housing Co-op and the eviction of 450 residents. Red Pepper Magazine quotes one of the residents at the time, Julian Cheyne, who spoke of how ‘Compulsory purchase is a brutal process and from day one the Clays Lane community was lied to while promises were made and broken without a second thought.’

Short-term evictions and long-term gentrification go hand-in-hand. In some parts of the city, closer to the Olympic site, poor residents are being forced from their homes while beautification ‘development’ and ‘regeneration’ projects in areas as far out as Dalston Junction or Hackney’s Broadway Market have demolished a squatted social centre and theatre, whilst Council-appointed agents sell-off public land to be converted into luxury flats by developer cartels.

As with previous host cities, the displacement of residents is not limited to direct government policy. In some East London boroughs landlords have begun evicting tenants in places where rents are fetching fifteen times their standard rates, flats are now being advertised as “Olympic lets” and imposing hefty “penalty” clauses for tenants who refuse to leave.

Recently campaigners camped out in the Leyton Marshes refused attempts by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) to convert the public space into an Olympic training facility. Indeed, in the past some campaigns against the Games have succeeded in their resistance. A notable example is the broad-based coalition of housing and labor activists of No Games Chicago, largely credited for foiling the city’s attempt to host the 2016 Olympics, even after pleas from Barack and Michelle Obama.

Anti-Olympics organisers in Chicago had been so successful, despite a multi-million dollar barrage of pro-Olympic propaganda to ‘cleanse’ the working-class South Side, that days before the Olympic Committee vote the Chicago Tribune found that a majority of the city opposed the bid and 84% opposed using public money to support the games.

In Rio de Janeiro, the thousands of slum dwellers who have been given eviction notices are refusing to go quietly; instead the poor have long prepared to fight and are now putting up a historic resistance in the courts and the streets. With unions holding strikes in at least eight host cities of the 2014 World Cup, and a nation-wide movement of 25,000 World Cup workers have threatened prolonged strike action. In a New York Times report, a resident, Cenira dos Santos, said of the Games, “the authorities think progress is demolishing our community just as they can host the Olympics for a few weeks, but we’ve shocked them by resisting.”

The story in each city remains almost identical.  Once selected, a city expends vast amounts of public resource to begin a program of forced displacement, rental speculation, urban renewal projects, demolition of public housing and gentrification. In fact, if there is one thread that runs through almost every Olympic event it is that the poor of each Games subsidise their own violent dispossession.

As money is pumped in to develop, regenerate and ‘clean’ the city, the ‘community’ is forced to flee, transforming an urban collective identity into an individualised consumer one, defined by a narrow homogenised racial, economic and ethnic suburban ego ideal. This process of gentrification and suburbanisation results in deep political and cultural insulation, alienation and detachment; detachment of families from one another and detachment from the commons.

Detachment shapes the way individuals are exposed to and think about themselves in relation to the world, living a life of separation protected from ‘difference’. Passive acceptance of inequality is now actively espoused. The gentrification of the Olympic host city, the withering away of an urban working class, social atomisation and the subsequent erosion of political consciousness is a planned outgrowth of a city seemingly waiting to be cleansed.

Any reading of Olympic history reveals the true motives of each host city. It is the necessity to shock, to fast track the dispossession of the poor and marginalised as part of the larger machinations of capital accumulation. The architects of this plan need a spectacular show; a hegemonic device to reconfigure the rights, spatial relations and self-determination of the city’s working class, to reconstitute for whom and for what purpose the city exists. Unlike any other event, the Olympics provide just that kind of opportunity.

You can also check out: Special Report | #London2012: an Olympian exercise in corporate greenwashing

Ashok Kumar

Ashok Kumar is a writer, activist and a PhD candidate of Economic Geography at Oxford University. He was a contributor to The Assault on Universities: A Manifesto for Resistance (Pluto 2011) and It Started in Wisconsin: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Labor Protest (Verso 2012). He tweets at @broseph_stalin.

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Andy
Apr 11, 2012 18:35

Great article!

How do we make it impossible for them to do this? I think they used to use global summits in the same way, but now they have to hide them in remote locations.

Ben
Apr 11, 2012 21:19

doesnt get much better than this. always wondered why cities bend over backwards to entice these debt inducing monstrosities. exceptional commentary.

Benjamin Samuel
Apr 11, 2012 22:15

Wow, so London hosted the Olympics already, in Olympia Kensington which was recently taken off the tube map. Why are they creating the “Olympic Village” in East London, if there is already an Olympia in Kensington?
Also Westfield Stratford, what on earth is that about? Ticket-holders get off the train and have to walk through this complex before they even get to the sport, like IKEA.

POP
Apr 12, 2012 13:39

https://www.facebook.com/events/116807861786217/

Protest outside Bernard Hogan Howe Lecture
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
4:30pm

Duncan House Campus – University of East London, E152JB – Stratford High Street.

Emma
Apr 12, 2012 14:26

Excellent stuff. I knew the Olympics were bad news, but didn’t realise quite how bad. The class war waged by the rich is becoming absolutely relentless… thank you highlighting these issues in this brilliant (and extremely well-sourced) article :)

WB
Apr 12, 2012 17:16

Great piece. Its very difficult to organise around these issues. However I know the Occupy movement are going to be planning a lot of actions, so we should definitely try to make this part of the agenda

Adam
Apr 12, 2012 18:01

What I’m most interested in is what happens to those who are dispossessed. The talk of alienation and separation would seem to be the primary disease for the colonisers rather than the economic victims.

Where do you go the place that was the cheapest in the region to rent is no longer? The place you can’t afford that’s second cheapest. I didn’t get the impression you were saying this caused great homelessness so what is the pattern of dispacement?

Adam
Apr 12, 2012 18:03

Sorry, terrible lack of proofreading there.

Ava Caradonna
Apr 12, 2012 20:46

hi,

i thought people might be interested in a campaign that sex workers are running concerning the Olympics.. for more info see the xtalk website.

x:talk** and its supporters are calling for a moratorium on arrests of sex workers in London with immediate effect until the end of the Olympic Games.

Governments, charity organisations and campaign groups have argued that large sporting events lead to an increase in trafficking for prostitution. These claims, often repeated by the media, are usually based on misinformation, poor data and a tendency to sensationalise. There is no evidence that large sporting events cause an increase in trafficking for prostitution.

These claims can lead to anti-trafficking policies and policing practices that target sex workers. In London, anti-trafficking practices have resulted in raids on brothels, closures and arbitrary arrests of people working in the sex industry. This creates a climate of fear among workers, leaving them less likely to report crimes against them and more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. This is an inadequate response to sex work and to trafficking.

x:talk is aware of “clean up efforts” already underway in London, particularly east London, in the run up to the Olympics. These include multiple raids and closure of premises. We anticipate that until the end of the Olympic games there will be a continued rise in the numbers of raids, arrests and level of harassment of sex workers.

A series of violent robberies on brothels by a gang in December in Barking & Dagenham demonstrates the effect that this climate of fear can have on the safety of sex workers. The effect of raids on brothels and closures in the area had eroded relations between sex workers and the Police with the result that the sex workers targeted by the gang were unwilling to report the attacks for fear of arrest. The gang were able to attack at least three venues in December 2011.

In light of this, x:talk and its supporters are calling on the Mayor of London and London Metropolitan Police to suspend arrests and convictions of sex workers

**About x:talk
x:talk is a sex worker led co-operative based in London. It runs English language classes that are free to workers from all areas of the sex industry. x:talk approaches language teaching as knowledge sharing between equals and regards the ability to communicate as a fundamental tool for sex workers to work in safer conditions, to organise and to socialise with each other.

Jordan
Apr 13, 2012 9:32

Brilliant. Everything I hate about the Olympics neatly summed up in a well researched and objective summary.

delroy
Apr 13, 2012 11:20

“This process of gentrification and suburbanization results in deep political and cultural insulation, alienation and detachment; detachment of families from one another and detachment from the commons. Detachment shapes the way individuals are exposed to and think about themselves in relation to the world, living a life of separation protected from ‘difference’. Passive acceptance of inequality is now actively espoused.”

thought-provoking indeed!

Reza
Apr 13, 2012 11:30

This ones been making the rounds. Should be required reading for the population of potential host cities.

Andy
Apr 13, 2012 12:18

Great article, very coherently brings together all the major aspects of speculative mega-events very nice. The building of a strong urban movement is hugely important in the UK at the moment I feel, and the development of an alternative spatial politics and critical geography is crucial to that. As Harvey says, the urban scale is the centre of capital accumulation and dispossession, and at the moment I think we’re not nearly strong enough there.

Friday’s London Links: Olympic edition
Apr 13, 2012 12:35

[...] Ceasefire Magazine on the Olympics and social cleansing. [...]

Roween
Apr 13, 2012 12:45

Suberb! By far the best piece i’ve read on the Olympics. If interested in fighting back the olympic onslaught, come to this CounterOlympics meeting this Saturday at the Bishopsgate Institute.

http://counterolympicsnetwork.wordpress.com/2012/03/21/counterolympics-at-bishopsgate-institute/

Alex Michie
Apr 13, 2012 14:06

Brilliant article, well done.

We need more articles, but also more civil disobedience and protest in order to put this extremely important issue on the public radar.

http://oxfordstudent.com/2012/04/09/boat-race-a-missed-opportunity-for-civil-disobedience/

oc
Apr 13, 2012 20:25

This is an interesting article for digging out that research and drawing attention to trends.

I’m not sure you really nail your explanation of how the actions of totalitarian governments in China etc are analogous to what is happening in England.
A few questions to consider:
Perhaps host cities use the most impoverished areas for their bids because they think it will strengthen the ‘legacy’ element and improve the bid’s competitiveness? I know you might say this is part of the gentrification narrative, but let’s not forget that places like Newham and South Central LA aren’t merely areas of diversity of poverty, they are also areas with high crime and low living standards that aren’t exactly loved by the people living there. In Plan B’s recent protest track he said they put in the Olympics in East London “without tearing down any flats”, but you suggest that tearing down flats to rebuild them with better models would be part of the ghetto cleansing? I’m not necessarily saying he is right and you are wrong, mind, he has been pretty inconsistent on these kinds of issues.

And in terms of Government activity seeming to focus on the particular area. I think a lot of that can be explained by the low spending imposed by the Coalition on different departments. The Met, just like government departments, are keen to create success stories and capitalise on the availability of low cost communications that you can get from piggy-backing on the Olympics. So it is not always about some centralised conspiracy.

That said, good article and why the hell are we wasting all our money. But it’s not like we ever had a choice.

Get Sued by the London™ Adidas™ 2012™ Coca Cola™ Olympic Games™ | Gossipian
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[...] no control over which specific event you paid an extortionate amount to see? Well fuck you fucking prole, in order to protect the precious brands sponsoring the London 2012 Olympic Games, this will now be [...]

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Apr 14, 2012 13:39

[...] As with previous Olympics, London2012 is being used to cleanse a city of its poor (cease fire magazine) [...]

David
Apr 14, 2012 14:09

Many valid points raised here and quite prescient that it is being highlighted by an educated and respected individual.

As a London resident the past 3-4 years I just wonder whether you need to more accurately define your definition of working class. The very nature of the term employs a person with full time employment.

Working class does not mean welfare class which is who makes up so much of the London Olympic area population. To be working class you need to be paying taxes. If you are living off hand outs from the public purse funded by others’ taxes then it is difficult to see how beggars can be choosers?

The UK is limping its way to a bitter economic ends and probably 2nd world living standards for many if it’s one truly great and global city does not continue to push forward and compete with other major international money cities. There will always be back room dealing involved in large public infrastructure investments and whilst undesirable, far worse is having nothing due to the interests of those contributing nothing taking priority over the majority of the tax paying population.

Beggars can’t be choosers and if you try and create a society that allows them to be it will just end up being steamrolled by all other strong societies where Darwinian economics abounds – “insert nearly anywhere else here”.

Dom
Apr 14, 2012 15:29

Totally agree with calls for civil disobedience to the demands required by sponsors though.

Anyway… a lot of prostitution is a really very nasty business, and in the run up to something as lucrative as the Olympics the types of hostile takeovers/robbing of brothels by different gangs and people trafficking/on-street prostitution is something as a resident of this city I’d like to see the Police tackle if that is okay?

Even though he is from Medway, and is a geographer, I struggle to see any tangible good David Harvey, or the people that quote him, have actually done (although am willing to be proved wrong). Suppose everyone wants to be the big ideas man rather than doing the work on the ground. You’ll make a great consultant someday.

Dom
Apr 14, 2012 15:31

What, because of increased Police activities? Disingenuous?

“A series of violent robberies on brothels by a gang in December in Barking & Dagenham demonstrates the effect that this climate of fear can have on the safety of sex workers.”

am
Apr 14, 2012 16:29

Same thing is happening in Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games. People evicted to have their homes torn down, day centre for disabled people is being demolished to make way for a bus park. It’s scary for those who have to live with it but anytime anyone tries to complain you get people like David Mitchell writing in the Guardian about how people are being such killjoys and we should all enjoy the party. It’s not just that people don’t know about this – its that they don’t want to know and they don’t care what happens to anyone outside their circle.

frank
Apr 15, 2012 11:28

MY MIND JUST GOT BLOWN! absolutely breathtaking expose.

Andy
Apr 16, 2012 10:11

Glasgow Games Monitor are doing great work up in Scotland fighting the same battles around the 2014 Commonwealth Games

http://gamesmonitor2014.wordpress.com/

Women at risk in prostitution crack down ahead of Olympic Games | Women's Views on News
Apr 17, 2012 19:02

[...] of its homeless, rising rent prices, forced evictions and the demolition of public housing; gentrification policies that are often employed in Olympic Games host [...]

AA
Apr 19, 2012 20:06

Giedre
Apr 29, 2012 17:52

A very good piece on a very sinister issue. I find it really surprising that so many people here in London still claim they are “proud” their city is hosting the Games – what, exactly, are they proud of? The “Clean-Up”? Gentrification? Forced evictions? Clampdown on our liberties? Overspending? All of the above?

At the Greenwash Gold 2012 launch, one member of the public called the Olympics “a parasite that descends onto different cities every 4 years (plus, the winter Olympics in between)” with all its dire consequences to residents, the environment, and the city at large. All this nonsense about the Games helping local communities – oh really?! It’s only helping those benefiting from our consumerism: I hear the only entrance to the Olympic Village will be through the Westfield shopping mall. How about that.

By the way, the crackdown on sex workers is also being justified as a measure against trafficking for sexual exploitation, as I reported for the New Internationalist magazine: http://www.newint.org/blog/2012/02/01/sex-trafficking-rumours-at-olympics/.

Thank you for such an important analysis. How did we ever let this happen to us?

R
May 2, 2012 18:55

Great article overall, but could someone please explain to me why a crackdown on sex workers is a bad thing?

I live near Barking & you can’t miss them if you’re out after 10pm. It absolutely IS a “community concern” and you’d be hard pressed to find any local residents who’d be opposed to the govt.’s crackdown. Ordinary people have been going door to door with petitions and lobbying their MPs for ages.

JJ
May 3, 2012 22:28

R – the primary reason has nothing to do with the community concerns, which im sure there are plenty. its part of a pattern of cleansing that begins with prostitutes and the homeless and evolves into the wholesale destruction of the urban working class as we know it. The outgrowth of these policies only help land speculators and develops not the local community. It has be looked at in context.

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May 6, 2012 18:05

[...] Want to cleanse your city of it’s poor? Host the Olympics: by Ashok Kumar [...]

Carlos
May 8, 2012 15:06

This predicts whats happening in London right now, that ‘one thread that runs through almost every Olympic event is that the poor of each Games subsidise their own violent dispossession.’

From http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-17986383: “Tenants in east London are being evicted from their homes as landlords attempt to cash in on the Olympics, BBC News has learned.”

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Raj
May 11, 2012 7:06

impressive expose. the protests against the olympics’ as ‘event capitalism’ in chicago took shape years in advance. it was rooted and led by the poor and the black on the south side who foresaw the devestation the mandarins of the city intended for them. After the protests at the last world cup in south africa and the current trend in brazil, the head of fifa, in a moment of candour, announced that they should think twice before placing the games in the global south because of the potential for protests and labour disruption. excellent piece, in highlighting the history of the games, tho i would add that these movements are winning. having been in the chicago protests from the beginning, the biggest lessons were: 1. it should be led by the community most effectived. 2. it should stay democratic, united and militand. 3. and, probably most importantly, it should start early.

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Philip Brennan
May 18, 2012 19:23

All of the above reads like it has just been lifted out of three books as a real life example of what the authors were trying say. The three books I am referring to are “The Shock Doctrine” by Naomi Klein, “Cities, War and Terrorism” edited by Stephen Graham and “Cities Under Siege” by Stephen Graham. These three books between them cover Disaster Capitalism and Military Urbanisation, and are very important reads in order to gain a fully nuanced understanding of what is going on with Corporatist Olympics.

This article above illustrates the practical working out of what I have been studying these past few months. Thank you.

Michelle Brooks
May 22, 2012 22:18

Great article, well done for raising the issues surrounding sex workers and the brutality of forced eviction; alive and well in GB. I work on this subject around the world and it is so disappointing to see it happen here. Mike Davis would be proud!

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[...] swallow this bitter pill. The 2004 Athens Olympics was suggested to be a significant contributor to Greece’s debt and in the current state of the global economy burying our heads in the sand, or rather beer and [...]

Andy
May 25, 2012 14:26

I can just see someone at the Olympic organising committee getting really wound up about the graffiti in the picture.

I mean, the ‘artist’ can’t have paid to use the copyright ‘Olympics’.

AA
May 27, 2012 0:13

Norbert
Jun 4, 2012 14:45

The artitle states “the 2004 Athens Olympics went almost ONE thousand percent over budget from €123m (£100m) to €11.5bn (£9.5bn) in costs”. In fact the increase was of the order of a factor of a hundred, or TEN thousand percent.

luger
Jun 17, 2012 23:08

The left do it all the time. They bus/shuttle the indigent away for a meal & a little shelter each time their political rep. comes to any major city, and all in hopes for a vote.

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Jun 22, 2012 19:55

[...] The games themselves, meanwhile, are helping to erode what public housing there is in Inner London. Since the announcement in 2005 that the city had won its host bid, there has been much talk of the legacy that the Olympics will leave once the summer is over. While some people who are more detached from life in east London imagine an abundance of publicly accessible sporting facilities — though recent host cities such as Athens suggest that debt and derelict buildings are more likely — it has been abundantly clear for residents of London’s East End for some time that the true legacy will be a city cleansed of its poor. [...]

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Jun 22, 2012 20:59

[...] The games themselves, meanwhile, are helping to erode what public housing there is in Inner London. Since the announcement in 2005 that the city had won its host bid, there has been much talk of the legacy that the Olympics will leave once the summer is over. While some people who are more detached from life in east London imagine an abundance of publicly accessible sporting facilities — though recent host cities such as Athens suggest that debt and derelict buildings are more likely — it has been abundantly clear for residents of London’s East End for some time that the true legacy will be a city cleansed of its poor. [...]

Want to cleanse your city of its poor? Host the Olympics « Counter Olympics Network
Jun 26, 2012 2:37

[...] Read the full article Share this: [...]

The Olympic Paradox
Jul 7, 2012 3:25

[...] an opportunity for host cities to quietly carry out what is dubbed by the strongest critics as “social cleansing.”  Games have indeed been marketed as an opportunity to “transform the social and sporting [...]

Steve B
Jul 11, 2012 10:17

Great Comment..
I utterly loathe the Olympics and the uncalled for bullying of the London workers and populace..

Transport wise we are being told, not asked, with no ‘please’ make your way into work without inconveniencing US the Olympic Fascists… ..

London 2012: media myth vs. reality « Andy's Miscellany
Jul 14, 2012 18:45

[...] Ashok Kumar on social cleansing at the Olympics [...]

Want to cleanse your city of its poor? Host the Olympics « Demokrati og glede
Jul 15, 2012 15:37

[...] « ‘It’s about democracy not austerity’    Londoners organize as the Olympics swallow up their communities » Want to cleanse your city of its poor? Host the Olympics Ashok Kumar, Ceasefire Magazine [...]

AK
Jul 17, 2012 15:02

Slovakian translation of the article: http://www.jetotak.sk/svet/olympiada-a-socialne-cistky

RGP
Jul 17, 2012 22:35

Interesting essay. I think that whilst it gives a fair approximation of the physical reality of the impact of the games, perhaps the conspiratorial element is not as accurate. The vast market forces that shape reality are, as a collective of individuals with myriad motivations – not just profit – themselves without a consciousness or conscience. Having been immersed in anti-capitalist acquaintance in the past, I always had the sense that the anger at the machine was futile.

Caesarean Policing | search for the master copy
Jul 18, 2012 16:11

[...] the brand police, missiles on tower blocks, silenced protest, twitchy torch relays, and the social cleansing, are still just  small parts of a larger, terrible tapestry. Mark Fisher, in the introduction to [...]

Did Chicago Win Gold by Losing its Olympic Bid? | Every Person Is a Philosopher
Jul 26, 2012 15:03

[...] of the Olympics. As this article and others (including Ceasefire Magazine’s special report on “The Olympics and Social Cleansing”) point out, making the city more “presentable” for the Olympic Games also consistently means [...]

Want to cleanse your city of its poor? Host the Olympics « Demokrati og glede
Jul 29, 2012 18:31

[...] « Vote ‘Yes’ to direct democracy    Participatory Budgeting in the Age of Fiscal Austerity » Want to cleanse your city of its poor? Host the Olympics Ashok Kumar, Ceasefire Magazine [...]

Was London 2012 Worth It? No. | The Platform
Aug 12, 2012 19:14

[...] Greece’s bankruptcy; and the 2010 Olympics ended up costing $60bn against the estimated $1bn. As Ashok Kumar notes, the Games always leave their host cities with decades of debt which must then be repaid [...]

Donald
Aug 14, 2012 19:54

This is a well-researched and insightful commentary that exposes a catalog of consistently treacherous actions taken by the powers that be amongst Olympic host cities.

I was especially moved by the mention of the games negative impact on the economy of Greece.

Here I was thinking that all the effort of reorganizing an entire section of a city would bring an almost assured profit that the residents could enjoy. Man I was wrong.

But not very surprised.

Donald
Aug 14, 2012 19:57

It’s sort of funny, that the speaker preceding the IOC president in the closing ceremony, representing Great Britain, ended his speech by saying, (paraphrase) “When the games came to Britain, WE DID IT RIGHT.”

The Olympics and Preservation III: Imagine All the People « Bricks + Mortar
Aug 15, 2012 18:01

[...] Currently, the favelas of Rio are in the news with stories of people forced out of their homes at gunpoint and bulldozers lining the streets to make way for World Cup and Olympic [...]

London 2012 Olympics: Unwrapped « sisters of resistance
Aug 27, 2012 6:59

[...] In the wake of the 2012 London Olympics, we are cross-posting Ashok Kumar‘s radical analysis of the bread and circuses that comprise the Olympic Games. You can read the complete post at Ceasefire Magazine. [...]

Olympic hobos | Disaffected Middle Class
Dec 4, 2012 23:32

[...] and 2008, the Olympics were the chief cause of human displacement and real-estate inflation – leaving more than 2million people on the streets, meaning not only did most of the evictions happen here, they also happened relatively recently. [...]

London Calling: Investigating Post-Olympics Regeneration in the East End - Intercultural Urbanism
Dec 25, 2012 20:28

[...] feel as though we are strangers in our own country that are openly talking about it. Many of us, ethnically cleansed and driven from our homes in East London and other cities where our families have lived and worked [...]

“Olimpiyatları neden istemiyoruz?” | www.orenliler.com
Aug 17, 2013 15:23

[...] gelir grupları ve emekçilerin mahallelerine yönelik  zorla tahliyeler ve yıkımlar Olimpiyatların kirli /kanlı yüzüdür. BM önceki Konut Hakkı Raportörü Miloon Kothari’ye [...]

Tweed! Banjo, banjo! Forgettable chorus! | self-indulgent drivel
Nov 11, 2013 22:58

[...] Know Your Role” or “Shut Up and Work Harder” – take your pick) back before the Jubilympic summer of Sweeping Social Problems Under the Carpet of Don’t-Spoil-The-Party Pa…. Maybe Glasto and Mumford and a perfect fit, given the prohibitively high cost of the tickets and [...]

Sochi Winter Olympics Exterminating Strays - Mafia Hairdresser | Mafia Hairdresser
Feb 6, 2014 4:16

[...] Mayor Bloomberg gave plane tickets for homeless families to fly back to their native countries. And London rid the streets of sex workers and homeless before hosting the 2012 Olympics. At least the “displaced” were put [...]

» Sochi’s dogs: An Olympic shame
Feb 12, 2014 20:50

[...] to make space for the construction of venues for the games. These kinds of strong-arm tactics of displacing poor people are par for the course in the lead up to recent Olympics. From the position of the city, it’s [...]

#SochiProblems: A Love/Hate Debate - Society Vernacular
Feb 20, 2014 16:23

[...] up hotels, hang signs welcoming visitors, set up an Olympic village for the athletes, displace the poor and homeless, murder thousands of stray dogs and cats… y’know, the [...]

http://sandiegofreepress.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/startinglinelogo-300×233.jpg
Mar 4, 2014 20:00

[...] From the British CeaseFire Quarterly: [...]

Another Games is Possible | howupsetting
Jun 20, 2014 11:01

[...] is examined and each is found to be at best wanting, at worst utterly false. Studies looking at previous Olympic Games and previous sporting mega-events have found that, without exception, they lead to the [...]

From Delhi to Glasgow | A Motion and a Pause
Jul 20, 2014 21:21

[...] the interest of security.  Critics have labelled these major sporting events as exercises in social cleansing, and indeed with many of the social and economic crises that attend to major sporting events, such [...]

sleeping dogs
Oct 20, 2014 14:23

Sleeping Dogs Game Review At first this game puzzled me because I thought
it was set in America. A lot of people are speaking in American accents.
But it turns out Hong Kong is it’s actual setting (there’s even a British guy in there as well.) Spotting the genuine Asian person is the challenge.

Anyway that doesn’t really matter, my job is to give you a game reviews light sprinkle of words and
wisdom as to whether or not you should buy the game,
so we shall begin. Straight away it gives signs
of being heavily story orientated which is a good thing in my
opinion! I like the story, I’m not going to give a big break down of the whole thing because that’s what
makes Game Reviews long and I don’t want to spoil
things for you. But, the story gets a thumbs up from me.
I’ll talk about the things which I like about Sleeping Dogs, first off there is a pretty nifty game mechanic where you have 2 different experience systems.

You gain experience as a cop and as a triad (saying cops and triads shouldn’t be a spoiler,
you should be aware of this.) So you gain experience as a cop by completing undercover cop cases
and not killing innocents and wrecking the place. You level up as a triad by beating down bad guys and the usual gang related things.
I really like the combat though, the fist-fighting seems
quite fluid and I actually get beaten a lot of the time which to me, shows that
the combat is a challenge (which not a lot of games are these days.) The developers have done
well to keep weapons out of your hands as much as
possible. So you do have to fight with your
fists most of the time, it makes a refreshing change from every man and
his dog packing heat in other games. Things I don’t like so much about the game include
- the graphics, they’re OK but that’s as good as they get.
Also some of the driving controls are very
unrealistic. I get that they wanted to put some
extreme stuff in there, like hijacking cars by jumping out of one and into the other, fine.
But ramming other cars is just plain bad, there’s a button to
ram car’s and when you press the button you seem to get a boost of speed
in the direction of the car you want to ram. I mean ANY direction, even if it’s parallel to your car, it’s
bad design in my opinion. Finally the only other gripe I have is the fact that every female you meet in Sleeping Dogs wants
to be intimate with you as soon as they meet you. Now I’ve heard a few things
about Hong Kong but this is just starting to look like Bangkok.
Video Game Review Conclusion Overall I think its a good game,
you’ll get a lot of hours of game play for your money and it’s very entertaining with a
good story.

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