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BoJo apologises to hotels - 'T'was Cook that done it'

Now BoJo has had to apologise to London hoteliers for blaming them rather than Thomas Cook for jacking up room prices for the London Olympics. He neglected to apportion blame to Locog for giving Thomas Cook the right to sell on the rooms at extortionate prices.

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The lying never stops

Blair's at it again. He recently told the World Economic Forum meeting in Brazil: 'You can use the Olympics as an economic platform to attract in a whole lot of different business and investment that surprisingly can go way beyond the sporting events.'

Back in 2002 the same Tony Blair commissioned a report, Game Plan, which concluded in section 2.93 "There are several categories of benefit attributed to mega events by their promoters. In the following sections we examine international attitudes towards mega events and the evidence for benefits. We conclude that the quantifiable evidence to support each of the perceived benefits for mega events is weak. The explicit costs of hosting a mega event should be weighed very carefully against the perceived benefits when a bid is being considered, especially given the high risks attached. The message is not: ‘don’t invest in mega events’; it is rather: ‘be clear that they appear to be more about celebration than economic returns'."

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Belching the devil: another friend of the Olympics

Along with Rio Tinto another well known and long standing friend of the Olympics and sponsor of London 2012 is Coca Cola, aka Killer Coke, which is being sued in the United States by trade unions acting on behalf of workers and trade unionists in Turkey, Colombia and Guatemala.

Regarding its sponsorship of the Olympics Coke says 'we are committed to promoting active, healthy lifestyles.'

The IOC's Jackie Rogge said: 'Because the Olympic Family and Coca-Cola share the values of Olympism at their deepest level, this is a natural partnership that we hold most dearly.'

Lord LoCoe declared: 'The sponsor family is absolutely vital to the success of London 2012. The Games would not be able to happen without the products and services they provide.'

The action filed on behalf of Guatemalan trade unionists states: 'This case involves a campaign of violence - including rape, murder, and attempted murder - against trade unionists and their families at the behest of the management of Coca-Cola bottling and processing plants in Guatemala.'

Maybe these are the kind of values, services and active, healthy lifestyles Coke, SLoCoe and Jackie Slogger had in mind.

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Gridlock at the Games?

Just as London faces the threat of a fine from the IOC for exceeding pollution levels, which could also endanger particular events like the marathon, Tube Unions have rejected BoJo's pay deal which would cover the 2012 Games and allow for the Tube to run for longer during the event.

So, restrictions on car travel and on the operation of the Tube?

Will this be the Most Gridlocked Games Ever?

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BOA gets its ANOC back on LOCOG and the IOC

The British Olympic Association may have achieved a 'win win' result with 'real clarity' by backing down from its argument with LOCOG, but it has now taken a backhanded swipe at its Olympic enemies! The BOA has withdrawn from hosting the biannual meeting of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC), which is usually held a few months before the Summer Olympics in the host city, justifying this by blaming its parlous financial situation. This follows on from the BOA's attempt to extract extra money from LOCOG, an argument rejected by the IOC. The biannual ANOC event coincides with the meeting of the IOC's executive committee. Now the BOA has used its failure to improve its financial position to prevent LOCOG showing off its preparations for the 2012 Games to the Olympic family and forced 'the family' to meet in Moscow rather than London!

ANOC has expressed its 'profound gratitude' to the Russian National Olympic Committee for its 'solidarity'.

LoCoe must be steaming!

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2012 Sponsorship: sustainable blood money

Rio Tinto Zinc is to sponsor the Australian 2012 Olympics team. The company described its values as 'accountability, respect, teamwork and integrity (which) are in tune with those of the Australian Olympic team.'

An alternative view: 'In every continent where Rio Tinto operates the story is the same: land taken from indigenous people without compensation; workers prevented from freely organising in trade unions; destruction of the environment; and cosy relations with politicians, government officials and dictators.'

Australian Olympic Committee President John Coates said Australia's Olympic athletes were 'incredibly grateful' for the money.

Recently when it was announced that RTZ was to provide the metal for London 2012 medals from its Utah mine Dr Brian Moench, of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, said: 'The business model of Rio Tinto is the routine exploitation of local people to maximise profits.' He blamed the company for causing up to 200 premature deaths a year. 'The research shows the impact of air pollution on disrupting the integrity of the embryo in pregnant women and congenital deformities. Air pollution is responsible for between 100 and 200 premature deaths every year in Salt Lake City.'

Chris Townsend, Locog's commercial director, said he hoped the medals would be 'spectacular and sustainable'.

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Corrupt Olympic fantasies

The tourism disaster which is London 2012 is turning from a gale into a hurricane. Hotels, outraged by the price gouging being practised by LOCOG's partners Thomas Cook and CoSport, are withdrawing rooms from its preferential-rate scheme. A while back SCoeLtd blamed hotels for jacking up prices and threatening London's good name. However, hotels hit back accusing LOCOG and its partners of being behind the abominable inflation. At the heart of the matter is the undisclosed payment made by Thomas Cook and CoSport to LOCOG to become official resellers of these rooms. This kind of corruption lies at the heart of the Olympic system whereby a range of commercial organisations pay Organising Committees to gain monopolistic access to the Games. Price gouging was supposed to be outlawed at the 2012 Games. In reality it is central to the whole event.

Just another example of the overhyped fantasy that is the Olympic Games.

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Marathon curry farce

SebCoLtd and the IOC's Denis Oswald took a stroll along Brick Lane as part of further attempts to pacify Tower Hamlets after the marathon was rerouted to Buck House. Tower Hamlets' reward? To be proclaimed London's 2012 Curry Capital.

Between popadoms LoCoe managed to employ the 'i' word yet again. "It's an iconic street in London and throughout the world now." He also observed: "This is a great street, a great community for people to spend time between all the fantastic sporting competitions. The Olympic Games is on the doorstep. It gives the opportunity for Tower Hamlets and Brick Lane to be showcased in an extraordinary way."

But not of course as part of the marathon!

LOCOG and Coe's management of the marathon has also come under attack from an unexpected quarter. Marathon organiser Dave Bedford disputed the need for a full scale test of the route and the closure of central London roads over the Spring Bank Holiday and quit back in February to protect London's other more important marathon event.

He also spoke out about LOCOG's treatment of Tower Hamlets: "Had the 2012 organisers engaged with Tower Hamlets and told them what was happening and why it would have been alright but they didn't. They dropped it on them as a fait accompli and that's not the way you should treat a partner. It was done appallingly and I imagine when Seb made peace with the (East End) politicians he also apologised at the way they had been treated."

A LilCog spokesperson said Dave wasn't really needed any more as "planning has now moved on to a more operational level of detail."

Dave put it rather differently. "We (London Marathon) are a professional business run by professionals and it was very difficult to work for another organisation who in the main have never organised an event of their own."


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The Internal Tourism Experience

Cover image of <em>Philosophy of Olympism</em>, Ljubodrag SimonovicCover image of Philosophy of Olympism, Ljubodrag Simonovic

The Normalisation of the Exceptional

Something to look forward to in London

"Military-grade fortressification has become standard procedure for host cities during mega-events, and Vancouver was no exception. The security budget was originally estimated at $175 million, but eventually skyrocketed to more than $1 billion, a process indigenous activist Gord Hill characterized as ‘police extortion from the ruling class’.18 Canadian authorities used the Olympics as an opportunity to jack up the Kevlar-per-capita quotient. Even the Globe and Mail was alarmed: ‘You don’t have to be a disciple of dissent to be dismayed at the amount of money being spent on security for the Vancouver Olympics’.19 Canadian officials used the money to establish a surveillance-blanketed urban terrain, employing 17,000 security agents. The Canadian Border Services Agency inserted their officers—essentially the immigration police—into the Downtown Eastside, demanding residents provide proof of citizenship. Police confronted demonstrators with semi-automatic weapons, normalizing authoritarianism and proliferating fear. More importantly, the high-tech policing equipment for today’s state of exception becomes tomorrow’s new normal: military-style weaponry that can be employed day-to-day.

The heavy police presence was accompanied by the installation of nearly 1,000 cctv cameras in greater Vancouver. The city’s Integrated Security Unit promised to take them down after the Games were over, but ‘take down’ does not mean ‘go away’. Surveillance went beyond these ever-winking red eyes. Police Chief Jamie Graham bragged about the infiltration of anti-Olympic groups by security agents: a police spy had wormed his way into becoming a bus driver who transported activists to a protest of the Olympic torch relay. Outspoken Olympics critic Christopher Shaw, the author of Five Ring Circus, experienced intense harassment from VISU. Beginning in June 2009, he was approached by VISU at home, at work and on the street. Sometimes officials would be holding a copy of his book, saying they had found ‘disturbing information’ that they wanted to discuss, or that VISU investigator Jeff Francis ‘says hi’. By 2010 these visits were almost daily occurrences, with VISU also questioning his friends, girlfriend and ex-wife. Almost everyone involved in the Olympic Resistance Network was visited by VISU for questioning."

From: The Anti-Olympics, Jules Boykoff, New Left Review, Jan-Feb 2011

Coming soon: Securing and Sustaining the Olympic City, Reconfiguring London for 2012 and beyond, Pete Fussey, Jon Coaffee, Gary Armstrong, Dick Hobbs, Ashgate (April 2011)

Often seen as the host nation's largest ever logistical undertaking, accommodating the Olympics and its attendant security infrastructure brings seismic changes to both the physical and social geography of its destination.

Since 1976, the defence of the spectacle has become the central feature of its planning, one that has assumed even greater prominence following the bombing of the 1996 Atlanta Games and, most importantly, 9/11. Such costs are not only fiscal. The Games stimulate a tidal wave of redevelopment ushering in new gentrified urban settings and an associated investment that may or may not soak through to the incumbent community. Given the unusual step of developing London's Olympic Park in the heart of an existing urban milieu and the stated commitments to 'community development' and 'legacy', these constitute particularly acute issues for the 2012 Games.

In addition to sealing the Olympic Park from perceived threats, 2012 security operations have also harnessed the administrative criminological staples of community safety and crime reduction to generate an ordered space in the surrounding areas. Of central importance here are the issues of citizenship, engagement and access in urban spaces redeveloped upon the themes of security and commerce.

Through analyzing the social and community impact of the 2012 Games and its security operation on East London, this book concludes by considering the key debates as to whether utopian visions of legacy can be sustained given the demands of providing a global securitized event of the magnitude of the modern Olympics. (Publicity blurb)


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2012 promoters' new discovery - no health benefits

The watchdog which never barks the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 has suddenly realised that it is unlikely London 2012 will deliver any health benefits just as the Guardian reports the government is about to abandon its Olympic legacy pledge of inspiring one million more people to play sport. "We've looked for evidence of previous Olympic Games or other major sporting events having an impact on health and sport participation and there isn't any tangible evidence," said the Commission's Shaun McCarthy.

Even so the dozy doggie didn't rule out the possibility. "I think London can do it if attention is paid to the legacy," he said. "That's a big 'if' because at the moment we're seeing lots of really good initiatives that will effectively stop when the Games finish.

"They will only deliver long-term results if there is some proper focus on legacy."

Well, woof! woof! to that.

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