1. THE OLYMPICS WILL SHOW OFF OUR CITY TO THE WORLD.
But it doesn’t. The Olympic Marathon had its route moved to Pall Mall because Tower Hamlets, the poorest borough in London, doesn’t quite make the right impression.
2. THE OLYMPICS WILL BENEFIT LONDONERS WITH JOBS.
It depends. Not people affected by the Games – only 25% of the Olympics workforce are from the five Olympic boroughs. However, Atos Origin, who run the volunteering scheme, are generating colossal profits from contracts. They’re less charitable to their workforce, who won’t get a penny for their time and energy.
3. THE OLYMPICS WILL BENEFIT LOCAL BUSINESS.
When the Athletes’ Village is turned into homes it will become part of the Stratford City development, now wholly owned by Westfield (after they bought out the other shareholders). Residents can look forward to having their environment controlled at the whim of a corporation whose reason for being is to sell stuff. Local business doesn’t really stand a chance in the long run.
4. THE OLYMPICS WILL CREATE MORE HOUSING.
Yes, if you can afford them! The rest of the site which is being given over to homes will be developed by the Mayoral Development Company, Olympic Park Legacy Company. They promise 11,000 new homes, and 35% of them will be affordable. Only 675 of them will be social housing though, so if you’re on the list in Newham get ready to wait. The average wait is around 10 years.
Previous Olympic cities, like Barcelona, Sydney and Seoul, have seen huge rises in property prices, forcing local families out of their neighbourhoods. This is already happening in London and thanks to confidentially agreements with the London Organising Committee of the Olympics and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) you won’t hear about it in the media.
5. THE OLYMPICS WILL CREATE MORE PUBLIC TRANSPORT.
Well, not quite. Huge swathes of London roads will become dedicated ‘VIP lanes’ during the Games. Thousands will struggle to get to work for the whole 10 weeks. There has been little word on how much the public will have to pay in fare increases in future years.
The DLR extension is finished but the new (old) platforms at Stratford International have been rebuilt out of wood. The cable car (officially the Emirates Air Line) that goes from not-quite-the-o2 to not-quite-the-ExCeL centre has beenfinished by the time the games happen. However, it broke down today after less than a month in operation. But at least it’s only costing the taxpayer £24million in exchange for Emirates to get their logo on tube maps for the next decade
6. THE OLYMPICS WILL MAKE THE CITY A SAFER PLACE TO BE.
Well, yes, they are sending in the army and putting missiles on top of peoples’ homes, then forgetting to guard them. You’ll be monitored the whole time by hundreds of security personnel, CCTV and flying drones developed for use in Afghanistan. Stratford is set to be the guinea pig for yet more oppressive surveillance tactics. Studies show that CCTV does little to reduce crime, but a lot to create a climate of fear.
The police also have a new temporary police station built on Wanstead Flats. Although planning permission was only sought for a temporary structure, it has been constructed as a permanent building – stealing a large chunk of public green space enjoyed by local residents for centuries.
7. THE OLYMPICS WILL BE THE GREENEST GAMES EVER.
Not quite. The Olympic Park is built on a former landfill site. Excavations have disturbed buried toxic chemicals, spreading them into the land. Radioactive thorium from an old watch factory has also seeped into the water table. DOW Chemical, the company that bought Union Carbide (responsible for the as yet to be cleaned up Bhopal disaster) are major sponsors. Plus BP is the Olympics official sustainability partner. Their involvement in the Tar Sands is a glowing indicator of their lack of commitment to ecological sustainability and social justice.
8. THE OLYMPICS IS AN INVESTMENT IN LONDON’S FUTURE.
Well it is quite an investment. £9.3bn, according to the Olympics Quarterly Economic Report in May 2011. The original estimate in 2005? £2.4bn according to the Labour government. The most recent figure doesn’t include costs associated with the acquisition of land, remediation, government departments and quango spending. 10% of the cost for the Olympics will come from Londoners’ taxes and 67% from national taxes.
9. THE OLYMPICS WILL PROMOTE DEMOCRACY AND FREEDOM OF SPEECH.
Well it will certainly be promoting many things through its corporate sponsorship deals. LOCOG are interested in protecting their benevolent sponsors but seem to have little interest in anyone else’s freedom of speech or expression, even handing out ASBO’s to anyone opposing the games. Their crack team of branding Police will be enforcing laws expecially drawn up for the olympics which are far more stringent than any other trademark or intellectual property law. With everything from an "Official chocolate bar of the Olympic Games" through to banning anyone using the words "olympics’, "2012", "Summer Games" "Twenty Twelve" and many more, the games is more than anything an experiment in extending corporate control of social life.
10. THE OLYMPICS WILL INSPIRE A NEW GENERATION.
It will but the International Olympics Committee isn’t only interested in inspiring future athletes. It’s going for the gold and hoping to inspire as many people as possible to buy more stuff.
It’s not quite clear what kind of future taxpayers are being asked to invest in. It seems to be one that favours a particular London vista – Pall Mall, oppression, privatization and the erosion of public space.