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The Five Ring Circus - Myths and realities of the Olympic Games


"The Olympic Games, once considered the pinnacle of athleticism and fair play, have become a cesspool of greed, backroom deals and the wholesale trampling of civil liberties. In Vancouver, preparations for the 2010 Games have had a substantial negative impact on the environment and have resulted in the 'economic cleansing' of the poor and homeless.


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Blacklisting, protest, 'domestic extremism' and the London Olympics

Finally the Metropolitan Police have come clean and admitted their role in the blacklisting of construction workers. While a number of companies had already owned up to their involvement with The Consulting Association, which kept a list of union members for the purposes of preventing them getting work on construction sites, even paying compensation to over 700 blacklisted workers, the police had refused to acknowledge their role in passing on information about union members to companies and The Consulting Association.

The existence of the blacklist, which included the names of over 3,500 workers, was revealed in a raid carried out by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), which discovered the details of these workers in an investigation in 2009, although allegations of blacklisting had been made for decades. Workers and lawyers had been convinced blacklisting was an established practice back in the 1960s. The breakthrough came at an employment tribunal in 2008 when Alan Wainwright, a former manager in the construction industry, gave evidence that blacklisting was a widespread practice. The difficulty of proving blacklisting was suddenly overcome leading to the raid on The Consulting Association.

The arrival of the Olympics provided a considerable impetus to the already existing campaign against blacklisting. As the highest profile construction site in the country the Olympic Park attracted attention like no other. In 2009 the Olympics became a focus for protests after it was found in the raid on The Consulting Association that one of the key contractors on the Olympic site, Laing O’Rourke, had been involved with the blacklisting group. Then when, in February 2011, Frank Morris, who was working as an electrician at the Media Centre, was sacked by a sub-contractor after he defended a whistleblower, who had already been fired, there were renewed protests and demands for action and investigation. This led to further revelations about the contacts between Olympics contractors like Carillion, Sir Robert McAlpine and Skanska and The Consulting Association. Despite the knowledge that these Olympics contractors had been named in documents found by the Information Commissioner the Olympics Delivery Authority (ODA) failed to take any action apart from asking contractors if they were involved in blacklisting. Unsurprisingly the contractors denied any involvement.

However, given its place in the public eye, the ODA did not escape so easily. The House of Commons Select Committee on Scottish Affairs started an investigation and in 2013 the ODA was lambasted for its failure to respond to evidence that blacklisting was happening on the Olympic Park. The Chair of the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Select Committee declared the 'ODA were deceived, gullible or negligent' after hearing evidence which contradicted the declarations of the ODA's Chief Executive, Dennis Hone, who had told the Committee: “The ODA did not receive any evidence or could find any evidence of blacklisting on the Olympic Park during the construction phase or otherwise."

Despite the steady drip of revelations and investigations it took the Met until February 2013 launch its own ‘investigation’ into police involvement. The interesting question is why the police even needed to have an investigation. They should have known what their own officers were up to. The man who ran The Consulting Associations, Ian Kerr, had himself been a Special Branch police officer, and the Met would have known it was this section of the police which was most likely to have been involved in this kind of dirty operation. As a former Special Branch officer he would have retained valuable contacts in the force.

The Met’s shyness at looking into its own activities was followed by a reluctance to release the report which took an astonishing three years to complete. Then instead of releasing the results of this investigation which, it is now revealed, found the allegations ‘proven’, the report was sent to the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Hogan-Howe, precisely because of its sensitivity. Hogan-Howe, true to form, then failed to pass on the result. The police sat on the report for a further two years all of which demonstrates that the process always had more to do with concealment and evasion than with taking action. Even then the police failed to say anything of substance about what they had found. Indeed the Met’s statement was bland beyond belief:

"The report concludes that, on the balance of probabilities, the allegation that the police or Special Branches supplied information is 'proven'. Material revealed a potentially improper flow of information from Special Branch to external organisations, which ultimately appeared on the blacklist."


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Videos from No Eviction for Olympics protest - Tokyo 2020

Two videos from No Eviction for Olympics protest against the eviction of homeless people for Tokyo2020. On January 27th 2016 the contstrucion company tried to seal off Meiji Park, Tokyo, where homeless people have been living, in some cases for years, and where the Olympic stadium is to be constructed. The company, JSC, also tried to cut off water for the homeless people. A protest by the homeless and their supporters succeeded in preventing this. The matter is being heard in court.


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Brazil's Dance with the Devil - The World Cup, the Olympics, and the Fight for Democracy by Dave Zirin

Brazil's Dance with the Devil by Dave ZirinBrazil's Dance with the Devil by Dave ZirinWritten by Dave Zirin, sports editor of the US newspaper The Nation, published by Haymarket Brazil's Dance with the Devil is a high octane read through the infatuation of Brazil's political elite with mega-events. Written before the 2014 World Cup it is highly relevant to the upcoming Rio Olympic Games. There is plenty of background on the politics of the bid and how it fits into the Lula era. However, its key focus is on the impact on the poorest communities, the favelas. As a sports journalist of unusual stripe Dave Zirin takes a look at significant sports personalities, notably the footballers Socrates and Pele, and how they represent different forces in Brazilian sport and society. Given the political importance of sport and its alleged disconnection from politics it is fascinating to read about Socrates' political classes at Corinthians. Zirin also provides a brief history of recent Olympics and highlights how the Games are about much more than sport, they provide an opportunity to redesign the city, minus the poor.


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Emergency Statement Regarding the Japan Sports Council's Shutdown of Meiji Park

An Emergency Statement Regarding the Japan Sports Council's Shutdown of Meiji Park on January 27th

01/28/2016

January 28th, 2016

Kazumi Ohigashi, Senior Director of the Japan Sport Council


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Skiers and Associated Press just can't understand the problem with cutting down forests!

It's embarrassing to see how poor mainstream media has been in reporting or rather in failing to report the destruction of forests for the latest Winter Olympics at Pyeongchang2018 and Beijing2022. In the case of Beijing2022 not even one article seems to have been written on the subject. The alarm had been raised on Chinese social media and was followed up by Terry Townshend, a British birder living in Beijing writing on his own birding blog. But apart from a specialist paper like Nature Western media paid no attention to the possible damage to the forest on the site even though there was considerable and sensible discusion about the merits of the Beijing bid. In the case of Pyeongchang2018 there doesn't seem to have been any coverage until the Guardian got round to writing a very good article, but almost a year after the forest had been cut down! In January 2013 Games Monitor featured the work of a South Korean environmmental group, The Good Friends to Nature, who warned of the threat to Mount Gariwang and publicised further warnings and actions, including a one man protest in Seoul by a Korean Environmentalist, through to its destruction in the autumn of 2014.

Now as the first test runs are held at Mount Gariwang the Associated Press has leapt into action with a syndicated article representing the position of the skiers who make out that they are puzzled by the controversy surrounding the mountain and the cutting down of an important part of the forest. The organisers insist the restoration plans are still in play despite the ridicule heaped on them by environmentalists as both our article and the Guardian's article make clear. In the Guardian Green Korea is reported as saying:

“The organising committee will perhaps argue that they will replant around 300 trees, but all of them apart from those 181 bigger trees belong to small species under two metres in height. It is difficult to imagine that they plan to replant trees that represent the ecological properties of Mount Gariwang. We think their attitude is patronising.”


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Tokyo2020 protests continue against eviction of homeless from Meiji Park

The protests against the eviction of homeless people from Meiji Park for the Tokyo2020 Olympics continue without any reports in the mainstream media outside Japan. It is hard to say how much is being reported in Japan. As of today the protests which started on 27th January 2016 are in their fourteenth day. Below are tweets from @noolympicsevict now telling the story in English.


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Protest against eviction of homeless in Meiji Park for Tokyo2020

It's an old Olympics story. Evictions are one of the less observed Olympic sports. In Tokyo it is estimated that up 2,000 households face eviction. In addition, when the Olympics come to town homeless people are among those who are shoved out of the way as in Atlanta where homeless people were simply put on buses and taken out of the city. Meiji Park is the site of Tokyo's Olympic stadium so the homeless people who have been living in the Park for years now face being evicted by the forces of the State. Matters have come to a head as the tweets below demonstrate....


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