Following its first event on 28th January at Toynbee Hall CounterOlympics held a very successful discussion at the Bishopsgate Institute on 14th April about the kinds of actions it and other groups could organise in the months up to and during the Olympic Games. During the event the Vancouver Poverty Olympics Torch was handed over to London after an earlier visit to the site of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Thanks to some excellent facilitation we agreed to announce a date, Saturday 28th July, for a major action. We will be holding a follow up meeting to prepare for this and other events on Saturday 19th May, venue to be announced.
We hope that corporate campaigns and local groups, as well as interested individuals, will be able to attend in order to ensure a broad based protest.
Far from being inclusive the London Olympics promote corporate privilege, divert resources away from grassroots sport and marginalise local people. In this they mirror the growing inequality in our society at a time when the government is shifting the blame for the present economic crisis from the banks and property speculators who caused it onto the backs of the poorest and most vulnerable, while undermining or demolishing public services.
The London Olympics are being used to sanitise brands like BP, Dow, Cisco, Adidas, Atos, Rio Tinto, Coca Cola, Mcdonalds and others, companies accused of causing environmental destruction, persecuting and even murdering trade unionists and of appalling labour practices. We find Adidas, the makers of the British Team’s kit, is accused of using sweatshop labour in their manufacture. Far from upholding ethical standards the IOC and LOCOG defend and justify their corporate sponsors.
London 2012 has involved constant lying, from describing the Lower Lea Valley as an ‘urban desert’ to claiming ‘legacies’ where there are none and continuing to insist the Games are ‘within budget’, when the cost is now possibly as high as £24billion, ten times the original £2.4billion. Land has been seized contrary to planning laws, as at Leyton Marsh, yet it is protesters who are locked up not those breaking these laws.
On the one hand the authorities proclaim the right of people to protest while on the other they insist everyone should get behind the Games. Extraordinary measures are being taken and enormous sums are being spent to ‘secure’ these Games, a legacy of control and paranoia for the future. Far from gaining national support it is plain there is widespread opposition to the Games and what they stand for. We should hold the authorities to their word. Protest is legal and just because protests occur at the same time as the Olympics does not alter that fact.