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Another Olympics Cycling Legacy - Critical Mass Convictions

Five of the 182 Critical Mass cyclists arrested for riding their bikes near the Olympic Park on the evening of the Opening Ceremony were finally convicted of breaching section 12 of the Public Order Act. Section 12 is intended "to prevent serious public disorder, serious criminal damage or serious disruption to the life of the community." In this instance, the police, taking extraordinary measures under the Olympic state of exception, set up road blocks on bridges to stop the cyclists crossing the Thames, an action which caused far more serious disruption than anything the cyclists were likely to achieve, even if this was their intention.


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Leyton Marsh: Malice and the prosecution of Mike Wells

Two weeks ago the trial began of nine members of Critical Mass, out of 182 originally arrested, for riding their bikes too close to the Olympic Park on the evening of the Opening Ceremony. Another malicious Olympics prosecution (see p 12), that of citizen journalist and photographer Mike Wells, finally came to an end almost two months ago on 17th January 2013. The story began with an unsubstantiated allegation that Mike assaulted the driver of an excavator at Sandy Lane, the unmade road that runs alongside Leyton Marshes, and ended nine months later at Stratford Magistrate’s Court. Mike’s prosecution occurred against a background of warnings from police and politicians that the authorities would take a hard line in the face of protest and disorder.


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How topping! Olympic Park fence electrified from mid 2010 to 22nd October 2012

For the Olympics the abnormal becomes normal. One of the most astonishing things to happen at London 2012 was the building of an electrified fence around the Olympic Park. The idea that this was necessary or sensible was seldom questioned. It may well be that most people didn’t even realise it had been done. People were constantly surprised when I pointed it out to them. But even those who did know of it probably thought the electricity was only on during the Games. Not so.

In December I asked the ODA

‘Is the electric fence around the Olympic Park still in use as an electric fence? If not, when was it last operated as an electric fence?’


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A Lottery of a Legacy!

So what exactly is an Olympic sports legacy? The Government seems to think it is more spectacles of elite sport. George Osborne has decided to waive tax rules to allow Usain Bolt and other top athletes to attend the Grand Prix event to be held at the Olympic Stadium in the summer. He says this is to ‘secure the Olympic Legacy’. Bolt hasn’t yet said he will come. Boris, son of John, has also weighed in with a spectacle of his own, a two day cycling festival to be attended by up to 70,000 including elite cyclists like Wiggo and Trott. Spiffing away Boris said: ‘"Following the superhuman efforts of our Team GB cyclists last year, thousands of cycling enthusiasts, both experienced and amateur, riding a fantastic route through the streets of our fine city is surely a fitting legacy’.

Elsewhere local media are now regularly reporting so-called ‘Olympic Legacy grants’ being made to clubs around the country. Featherstone Rovers Rugby League Club, for example, has been given £50,000 to ‘revamp facilities’. Warlingham Squash and Racketball Club in Surrey has also got £50,000 to make improvements like putting in a boiler and building women’s changing rooms. Several clubs in Northamptonshire are to share £500,000 to do up their facilities. These grants are described as ‘Olympic legacies’. However, it is hard to see what is specifically Olympic about the grants. They are just National Lottery funds which are being distributed by Sport England from a pot of £16.6million from something called the Inspired Facilities Fund.

A couple of sports festivals and a £16.6million fund are not going to make much impression on the present furore surrounding the decline in school sports funding. Far from inspiring a generation London 2012 saw sport participation in the target group of 16 to 25year olds fall.

Nor does it make up for the £2.175billion taken from the National Lottery for the Olympics. This raid on the Lottery included the loss of hundreds of millions of pounds taken from children’s sport in the name of elite sport. Nor has the DCMS repaid the Big Lottery Fund from which it grabbed £638.098million. After over a year of lobbying and a campaign now supported by more than 3,200 charities demanding the return of £425million of the stolen funds it has indicated it may repay £100 to £150million, but not until 2014 at the earliest. Jowell originally promised to repay all the Big Lottery Fund money. The DCMS also say in an attached Freedom of Information response: 'Repayments will not include interest based on inflation'. Most of that is probably lost for good. The rest, of course, will not be repaid at all.

A full rundown of the money taken from the Lottery, which could have been spent on other, better causes was provided in the DCMS Freedom of Information response:

'a total of £2.175 billion of Lottery funding is included in the £9.298bn public sector funding provision for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games…


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Olympics blacklisting - 'ODA were deceived, gullible or negligent'

Not so long ago the ODA was being touted by its former Chair, John Armitt, as a model for running infrastructure projects. Politicians and others should not interfere in these projects, which should receive cross-party support, instead they should be overseen by a quango - like the ODA. Armitt's proposal is backed by the Labour Party, which has created a panel to investigate the management of infrastructure projects. Lord Adonis, one of Armitt's panellists, rushed to endorse his proposal.

Armitt's big idea is based on his claim that the ODA 'got it right'. Far from getting it right the ODA failed to carry out its functions safely, as in the botched remediation, harassed and persecuted local residents affected by its programmes at places like Leyton Marsh and Leabank Square and lied constantly about alleged legacies such as Stratford City or the 'largest new park in Europe for 150 years'.

Now further evidence has emerged of its failure to investigate or even pay attention to allegations of blacklisting by its contractors. The case of Frank Morris was already known back in February 2011. The ODA took no action in response to the protests which followed over either the original sacking of a co-worker or of Frank Morris himself, when he raised objections to the original abuse.

In November 2012, the ODA's Chief Executive, Dennis Hone, told the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Select Committee investigating blacklisting:

“The ODA did not receive any evidence or could find any evidence of blacklisting on the Olympic Park during the construction phase or otherwise." He also claimed that: “At that time there was a discussion with our contractors and we requested evidence from people making the allegations and no evidence was forthcoming. If it had been then we would have gone after the contractors involved."


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Unique Korean habitat in danger from Pyeongchang Olympics

Mount Kariwang-san is one of the Korean peninsula's most important forest habitats. The Uiryong People, or the Good Friends to Nature--Korea NGO, have been campaigning against the destruction of this habitat and have provided images showing the variety of species and the area affected by the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. In the mid-1990s they thwarted a government project to construct a motorway over a key pass in the Mount Pukhan National Park in Seoul...

'Uiryong People', nature conservationists from Friends of Nature - Korea, in front of a giant acer in Chungbong Valley'Uiryong People', nature conservationists from Friends of Nature - Korea, in front of a giant acer in Chungbong Valley


...working ahead of official teams, members of the non-profit organisation conducted a general survey of the woods in the proposed ski area using GPS to spot all the remarkable trees and then counted and measured them over the last two years...


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Sochi 2014 - Risks or Rights?

NoSochi2014 is a campaign by Circassians living outside Russia, who want to draw attention to the genocide perpetrated against their people 150 years ago. Sochi happens to be the capital of their former homeland, Circassia, so its choice as the location for the 2014 Winter Olympics is a source of further pain as no recognition is given to Circassia or to what occurred a century and a half ago. On the contrary the Sochi Olympics is seen as providing an opportunity for the Russian state to create a new reality and simply paint the Circassians out of history.


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Pyeongchang 2018 will destroy 'Ecological Ark of Ancient Forest'

'Save Mt. Kariwang-san, an Ecological Ark of Ancient Forest, from Ski Area Construction for the 2018 Winter Games at Pyeongchang, Korea'

Summary Note on the Controversial Olympic Downhill Condemning a Treasure Mountain

Written by Cho Sang-hee (contact yakbell_cho@yahoo.com)


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