Thursday, February 17, 2005

The Olympics Rant

The Olympics technical committee is poking round Stratford today. As I went across the Lee Valley I saw blimps floating over various sites. They mark the planned sites for various Olympics buildings/ stadia, so that the nice foreign people in purple fleeces can see how the plans will translate into reality.
But what's being skated over are the views of the dissenters. Businesses will be wiped out. Local people will see developments that they’ve contributed to, campaigned for, helped put together, plans sympathetic to the environment, sympathetic to the needs of the area, being bulldozed over by top-down undemocratic, unfair, unsuitable development, wiping out pockets of wildlife and character in the area.
There's a wider point here too. As politics has been sidelined with the widely hailed death of ideology - ordinary people aren't supposed to be talking politics any more - it’s even a dirty word for politicians. All our politicians stand for the same neo-liberal capitalist orthodox policies. The Power of Nightmares explained eloquently how our governments, now they can't make any grand promises, have decided to scare us shitless with world terrorism fantasies. But one thing they can promise us is sport, sporting heroes and great sports events. We are being distracted by sport, expected to make it part of ambition either to excel in sport or support a great hero/ team. The press join in and the sports pages are expanding; whole channels are devoted to sport. Up to 30% of our news bulletins now contain sport. Sporting heroes are instantly given great honours, e.g., Dame Kelly Holmes, while true greats, intellectual greats, writers, actors, musicians, scientists, have to wait a lifetime for their honours. But while Kelly Holmes is not an intellectual, she does parrot the government line. She toadies up to Blair in a way that musicians, writers and intellectuals won’t. Blair’s government were stung in the early days by the the Brit pop stars, comedians, writers etc, almost en masse turning their back on a government who came to power offering a return to the centre-left, but only gave us more of the Thatcherite dream. So now he no doubt feels safer with fuckwitted daytime tv hosts and feeble minded sports stars.
It's easy to see our Olympic bid fitting into this. Stratford has been whitewashed, cleaned up, palm trees planted, graffiti removed, roads cleared, etc. Banners everywhere scream "Back the Bid". And that's the mantra, Back the Bid or we won't win, the doubters are told. Which doesn't make sense, as the doubters don't want the fecking Olympics anyway. News of the bid's progress helps push other items, less happy items, off the news bulletins. If we are chosen in the summer, there will be no dissent allowed. Top-down plans will be imposed on a very run-down part of the city. In a city that is screaming out for good schools, more GPs, more police stations, more youth facilities, more premises for small businesses, more affordable homes, etc, what we will actually get are sports stadia. And worse, existing sports facilities in Hackney, currently used by ordinary kids, are going to be turned into a fecking coach and car park!!
I’m not against the Olympics. Part of my mind is really looking forward to it. I’m even fairly confident we will win. But I fear that it will not meet the needs of the people in East London; will be completely irrelevant to their needs in fact. It will cause harm to the area. After the Olympics in Atlanta, once the multinational corporations pulled out, the Olympic village reverted to a dangerous high crime area, with entrenched poverty and no jobs. How do the politicians ensure that that will not happen in Stratford?

no chance?;
Official sites:
Official site; LDA; BOA; government
Protest sites:
Against the Bid;;

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