by Janine Ewen, originally published on June 25, 2014 in RioOnWatch.
The World Cup in Brazil has brought unprecedented criticism of the ways in which sporting mega-events are organized and scrutiny over who actually benefits. Though distinct in context and scale, the upcoming Commonwealth Games 2014 to be hosted in Scotland draws a comparison with the World Cup in Brazil and the way such events are politically charged. The Commonwealth Games 2014 (G2014), to be hosted by the city of Glasgow in Scotland has been described by Shona Robison, Scotland’s Minister for Sport and Equality, as having the “core value of equality, aiming to engage individuals from all backgrounds.” The event will begin on July 23, just ten days after the World Cup final in Brazil. Just a few days before the World Cup kicked off in São Paulo last week, President Dilma Rousseff hosted an exclusive dinner for journalists and other critics of the World Cup to promote the investment on infrastructure projects in Brazil and to dissolve uncertainty of FIFA’s presence in the twelve host cities. Despite the show of confidence, protests and intense international media coverage over the last year have exposed Brazil’s inequalities, corruption, misplaced public priorities and human rights violations to the world. Commonwealth Games host city Glasgow, the largest city in Scotland and third largest city in the UK, is also widely known for its political and social problems, with high crime, poverty, mortality, unemployment and overall deprivation rates. It was recently announced the UK’s sickest city. With evident social problems and increasing emphasis on the “legacy” as a justifying tool for mega-events, there is pressure for both Brazil and Scotland to achieve a sustainable legacy, but host “goals” extend beyond successfully realizing the events and legacy plans.
Submitted by Steve Dowding on Fri, 25/07/2014 - 17:30.
Oh what a lovely Legacy! The media are long gone but the scandalous treatment of the Manor Gardens Allotments Society (MGS) at the hands of the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority (LVRPA), Waltham Forest Council and the London Legacy Development Corporation LLDC) continues.
As part of the deal stitched together to prevent the MGS’s return to the Queen Elizabeth Aftermath Olympic Park (QEOP) at Eton Manor following their temporary relocation to Marsh Lane Fields, now ludicrously named The Jubilee Park, a Section 106 agreement had to be drawn up by the three conspiring ‘authorities’. The purpose of this was to provide plots at the now permanent allotment site at Marsh Lane in lieu of those no longer to be provided at Eton Manor and to divide up the costs of creating a meadow in their place at Eton Manor.
The LVRPA voted this agreement through without telling anyone, including the MGS, in May of this year. The text of the document presented to the Executive Committee states:
It is understood some kind of ‘understanding’ was reached between the London Development Agency (LDA) and the MGS in 2007 to ensure that following the Games the MGS would return to a site allocated for allotments somewhere on QEOP’.
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Wed, 09/07/2014 - 12:44.
When South Korea launched its bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics it was claimed Mount Gariwang was the only possible site for the downhill competition. However, a coalition of environmental groups, the Joint Committee for Stopping the Destruction of Gariwang Mountain, has recently discovered the Rules of the International Ski Federation (FSI) allow for a shorter track, under ‘exceptional circumstances’. In a letter to the FSI, see below, the Joint Committee asks for clarification of the rule and why this was not made known at the time.
These South Korean environmental groups consider they were misled when the Bid for Pyeongchang2018 was put forward and point out there is a viable alternative at a neighbouring ski resort at Yongpyong. They are now refusing to co-operate with the ‘recovery’ programme for the forest. The South Korean Olympic authorities have only just carried out an environmental assessment of the forest, which is laughable in itself given that this forest had been designated by the South Korean Forestry Service as site for the 'Protection of flora genes and forest Eco-systems'. The designation was changed when Pyeongchang was chosen to host the Winter Olympics to allow the site to be destroyed for the downhill event.
Whatever the alternatives, the proposal to cut down this virgin forest, home to the largest plantation of Wangsasure trees, a hybrid Aspen unique to the Korean peninsular, made a mockery of the IOC’s claim that the environment is its ‘third dimension’. It was always an outrage to sacrifice a forest of this quality for a few days of skiing.
Letter to the FIS
Joint Committee for Stopping the Destruction of Gariwang Mountain
71-16 Yulseok-ri, Wabue-eup, Namyangju-si, Gyeonggi-do, Korea
International Ski Federation
Blochstrasse 2; CH- 3653 Oberhofen / Thunersee
3rd April, 2014
To whom it may concern:
We, Joint Committee for Stopping the Destruction of Gariwang Mountain, is an umbrella group comprised of nature-protection civil organizations in Korea.
We have made efforts to prevent Korean government’s decision to build an Alpine downhill ski competition complex in one and only, the largest, the oldest and most diverse, taxus cuspidate habitat in Korea – Gariwang Mountain lying in both Jeongsun and Pyeongchang counties – from being fully realized. As you can see on the map below, the expected slope-construction site includes a vast area of Gariwang Mountain, which has long been designated by the State as ‘Protected Area for Forest Genetic Resource Conservation (the red circle)’.
But when the 2018 Winter Olympics was decided to be held in Pyeongchang in 2011, the Pyeongchang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (POCOG) completely ignored this most important fact and hurried into vote with the lawless, absolutely unforgivable ‘promise’ to build a new Alpine downhill ski competition venue in this very Gariwang Mountain.
We recently found out from your official website, particularly from the “particular rules for the different events” in “The International Ski Competition Rules (ICR) – Book IV Joint Regulations for Alpine Skiing”(web edition, July 2013), that in case of downhill competitions, the vertical drop of men’s courses for Olympic Winter Games is regulated from 800m to 1100m, and in exceptional cases, 750m (p.80).
We would like to receive your confirmation about this information. Is this correct? Does this mean that it would be alright to have the competitions unless the ski slope (the difference between the highest and the lowest points) go shorter than 750m?
If this is true, then it means a lot to us. Then it means that Gariwang Mountain is NOT the only available candidate for a new Alpine downhill ski competitions venue. Then it means we actually have many other pre-existing options around Pyongchang area, including the FIS-certified Yongpyong Ski Resort. Then it means that Mr. president of POCOG, Kim, Jinseon, ‘fooled’ the entire country claiming as if there was no other alternative than Gariwang Mountain for the new slope venue, as if we needed a new venue.
Upon receiving your confirmation, we are scheduled to organize our side’s actions to stop this monstrous ‘project’ being pushed forward not only by Gangwon Province and Korean government (that recently nudged Korea Forest Service to ‘lift’ Gariwang Mountain off the protection list), but also by POCOG and IOC, whether the latter has known about this or not.
Looking forward your swift reply,
On behalf of the
Joint Committee for Stopping the Destruction of Gariwang Mountain
About why Gariwang Mountain MUST BE PROTECTED no matter what
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Wed, 30/04/2014 - 14:11.
This article has been modified on receipt of further information.
London's failed Olympic Legacy creates strange bedfellows. It seems London2012's scandalous allotments' legacy, which has been totally ignored up to now by politicians and journalists, has scandalised former Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell, who has weighed in accusing the London Legacy Development Corporation and the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority of breaking the promise made to the Manor Gardens Allotment Society.
In a letter dated 25th March 2014 sent to Dennis Hone, CEO of the LLDC, and copied to Shaun Dawson, CEO of the LVRPA, Martin Esom, CEO of Waltham Forest Council, and Phillip Lewis, Chair of the LLDC Planning Committee, she points out that the Manor Gardens Society 'co-operated' with London2012 following 'assurances' that 're-provision would be made within the Olympic Park'. This had resulted in a decision to create two sites at 'Eton Manor and the southern areas of the park'. However, the decision by the LLDC on 25th February 2014 to agree an application by Waltham Forest, supported by the LVRPA, to create 'community landscaping' in place of the allotments at Eton Manor means:
'the MSG members have had the commitment to them broken. It was the responsibility of the planning committee to ensure that the promise made is met.'
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Thu, 27/03/2014 - 13:04.
Before the London Olympics documents allegedly leaked, hacked, obtained from private "intelligence" company Stratfor showed that Games Monitor had attracted the interests of this intelligence gathering outfit, whose client list includes Olympic sponsor Dow Chemical. Having read Stratfor's intelligence report on Games Monitor and Julian Cheyne I would urge clients of Stratfor to think again before renewing contracts as the information in their report on Games Monitor and Julian Cheyne was inaccurate. The article below is from Democracy Now.
Submitted by Mike Wells on Sun, 09/03/2014 - 08:48.
The media has fallen over itself to provide sympathetic coverage of West Ham's sale of their Boleyn ground. The Guardian headlined their article saying West Ham ‘agree’ to sell the old home ground as if this was something they would have preferred not to do instead of pointing out that developing the Boleyn ground was the whole point of the move to the Aftermath Park.
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Tue, 18/02/2014 - 21:18.
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Sat, 08/02/2014 - 02:09.
At 7.20am on Saturday 1 February I received an automated phone call, at home in Lower Clapton in Hackney, from the Environment Agency warning me about the high risk of flooding from the River Lee. At the same time I received this email from them:
Submitted by Martin Slavin on Sun, 02/02/2014 - 14:44.
Submitted by Steve Dowding on Tue, 28/01/2014 - 20:57.
Kijun Kim started a one man demonstration on 20th January 2014 in the centre of Seoul to protest against the destruction of the unique forest habitat at Mount Kariwang for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in 2018. Little attention has been paid in the media, both national and international, to the environmental destruction which is about to be perpetrated at Pyeongchang. He plans to continue his demonstration for one hundred days. His placard says:
'Mount Kariwan, the best virgin forest in South Korea will be destroyed by the construction of a ski slope for the Winter Olympics'
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Wed, 22/01/2014 - 13:48.
The scandalous treatment of the Manor Gardens Allotment Society continues. In the autumn of 2007 the allotments were forcibly, but supposedly temporarily, removed to Marsh Lane Fields in Leyton, now ridiculously renamed Jubilee Park. The original planning permission was granted by Waltham Forest on the strict condition that this was to be a temporary relocation and the allotments were to return to the Olympic Park, although not to their original site, now part of the 'Not the largest new urban park in Europe for 150 years'. Indeed, back in February 2007 so determined was Waltham Forest to ensure the allotments should return that it threatened to throw a spanner in the works when it turned down the LDA’s first planning application forcing the LDA to offer concessions and reapply.
But as many predicted at the time once created the likelihood was the allotments at Marsh Lane would not be removed come the end of the Olympics. And so it has transpired with Waltham Forest giving permission for a permanent set of allotments. For the New Lamas Lands Defence Committee, which campaigned to retain the open space at Marsh Lane, this has been a bitter pill to swallow. Not only has the open space been lost but environmental measures which were supposed to have been taken to screen the allotments have never been carried out.
Now the ‘scandal’, as far as Waltham Forest is concerned, is the notion that open space in the Olympic Park should be ‘lost’ to allotments. The original plan was for the allotments to be returned to a site at Eton Manor. Not all the allotments mind you. The LDA refused to treat the allotments as a society, which it was, only agreeing to the return of those individual allotment holders who had moved from the original site.
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Sun, 12/01/2014 - 22:51.
By Blacklist Support Group
Campaigners celebrated yesterday (Wed 18 Dec) claiming the bitter year long blacklisting dispute on Crossrail and protests at Olympics were totally vindicated following evidence given by Pat Swift to the Scottish Affairs Select Committee in the Westminster parliament. Pat Swift was the head of Human Resources for the BAM - Ferrovial - Kier (BFK) consortium on Crossrail and the manager at the centre of the claims that UNITE shop steward Frank Morris had been dismissed in September 2012 because of his previous union activities.
Submitted by Steve Dowding on Sat, 21/12/2013 - 17:49.
A number of residents near the Olympic Park have illnesses they believe to be related to proximity with contaminants originating from works on the polluted land of the London Olympic construction site.
My colleagues and I have been have been reporting and researching the issue of contamination in the London Olympic Park. The contamination originates from the site's more than century long base and dumping ground for various noxious industries. Preparation for the Olympic Park included the excavation of almost the entire 2.5 square kilometer site.
During these excavation works there were numerous complaints about dust originating from the contaminated site. We are gathering information about any health issues that may have been caused by dust originating from the Olympic Park demolition and excavation activities including "soil washing operations".
Submitted by Mike Wells on Fri, 04/10/2013 - 13:12.
I visited the recently opened part of the Olympic Park on what turned out to be one of the hottest days of the year to have a look around. It took a while to take it all in. My most surprising discovery was the almost complete absence of any visible wild life. Apart from pigeons in transit across the space I saw only one wild bird in the three hours I was there. It was probably some kind of Reed Warbler. Hardly surprising given the sheer volume of reeds planted alongside the river. There were small numbers of Damsel Flies, again not surprising given their mobility along the river.
Submitted by Martin Slavin on Thu, 08/08/2013 - 12:59.
As part of the London Olympic Park reopening festival artists Bompas and Parr will contaminate the River Lea - which has suffered unprecedented pollution-related fish kills this week - with bulk quantities of fluorescein dye to turn it a lurid green.
Submitted by Charles Batsworth on Sat, 27/07/2013 - 17:47.
Fish were killed in numbers on Tuesday July 23 by Oxygen depletion of the River Lee downstream of Deephams sewage works in Tottenham. Climate change has created the conditions for an exceptional heatwave to become a more frequent possibility.
The amount of water extracted upstream for human use is considerable. Downstream about 50%-80% of the water body can be treated sewage. During the dry summer months there often isn't enough water-flow to provide reliable conditions for the fish. The amount of dissolved Oxygen in the water in a rain free heatwave can become so depleted that fish begin to suffer.
Submitted by Martin Slavin on Tue, 23/07/2013 - 19:08.
Submitted by Steve Dowding on Fri, 05/07/2013 - 16:42.
The fraught disputes over how best to recoup the high construction and maintenance costs of the London Olympic stadium conform to a pattern previously seen elsewhere in England and abroad. The story of the Don Valley stadium in Sheffield provides a cautionary tale of how the visionary delusions of ambitious politicians end up ruining the chances of ordinary people gaining adequate access to affordable opportunities for healthy recreation.
Submitted by Martin Slavin on Wed, 01/05/2013 - 16:05.
Back in September Games Monitor reported that the amount of affordable housing in the Aftermath Zone (it's time to think of some more imaginative names than the QEII Park - suggestions welcome) would be reduced to 28%. The LLDC had waited to reveal this to, of all people, an American Community Land Trust organiser, Greg Rosenberg, who was visiting London to promote CLTs.
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Tue, 23/04/2013 - 03:41.
Submitted by Steve Dowding on Mon, 01/04/2013 - 00:00.
The personal story of Olympic pundit, filmmaker and journalist, Mike Wells: an entertaining yet troubling tale of wrongful imprisonment and intrigue. Wells uses the London Olympics as a lens through which to look at the state of Britain.
The case against me was the result of an unscheduled Olympic boxing match. It occurred in April 2012 at Leyton Marshes outside a construction site where basketball courts were being built for the Games. Local opposition to the basketball facility was passionate because it was being erected on much loved parkland. Protesting grandmothers, dog walkers, and transvestites amongst others had made themselves unpopular by sitting in front of construction vehicles. I was there shooting footage for my film ‘London Takes Gold’.
I arrived at Leyton Marshes, a beautiful green space in East London, to find an excavator working in open parkland without safety measures. ‘Worth filming’ I thought. A passing walker suddenly veered from his course and stood in front of the machine. He started yelling at the driver to stop work owing to the likelihood of crushing dogs and people with the machine’s wildly swinging arm.
Submitted by Mike Wells on Fri, 29/03/2013 - 15:13.
In a house in the London suburb of Ealing, hired for the occasion by a film company, an actor playing the part of an average guy, is checking in a mirror how he looks in his recently bought shirt. Out from behind the mirror steps the winner of the recent Olympic women’s heptathlon who reels off some spiel about a 2% discount. The actor/guy plays gobsmacked that this princess should emerge from behind his mirror, announce some cashback offer then humiliate him over his new shoes.
Submitted by Martin Slavin on Thu, 28/03/2013 - 20:00.
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.
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Mon, 18/03/2013 - 17:30.
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.
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Sun, 10/03/2013 - 23:15.
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?’
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Thu, 21/02/2013 - 00:52.
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…
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Fri, 08/02/2013 - 04:05.
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."
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Fri, 25/01/2013 - 22:14.
Mount Kariwang-san is one of the Korean peninsular's most important forest habitats. The Uiryong People, of 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...
...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...
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Sun, 20/01/2013 - 14:54.
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.
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Fri, 11/01/2013 - 22:49.
'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 firstname.lastname@example.org)
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Thu, 03/01/2013 - 14:25.