Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Is London excited about the Olympics?

That question might have seemed a no-brainer until just over a week ago but things are changing fast in the home of the 2012 games. I've been reading some disturbing articles looking at links between the huge development going on for the games and the unrest.

This one over at Inside the Games says people see the millions being spent but don't see any benefit to their area other than getting lots of new buildings.

But the really disturbing information is when the journalist in this piece in an English paper looks back at what places like Korea, China and Mexico did in their preparations for the games. He remembers arriving in Mexico City in 1964 and says: "... observe tanks outside the Olympic Stadium and platoons of soldiers (many ludicrously disguised as Boy Scouts) was a deeply shocking experience.

"A few days before, warned that continuing civil unrest might halt the Games, the Mexican president, Diaz Ordaz, ordered 10,000 anti-Games demonstrators gathered in a square – mostly students alarmed at the economic effect on Mexico's poor – to be machine-gunned from helicopters. In addition to 287 deaths, 1,200 were wounded. The Games went ahead."

This article says that people living in areas like Hackney just don't think they are part of the games at all. He doesn't say but I would like to know how many local Londoners even have tickets, or any realistic chance of affording tickets at any events staged in the grounds later?

It's all a lot to think about for the organisers, but hopefully they can solve it in a more humane manner than Mexico did.

What do you think - will the Olympics help to bridge the gap between people or make it worse?



Snowcatcher said...

Very sad that it comes down to politics when something like this happens. It may not appear to bring anything to the area, particularly the homeless, when new buildings they can never use are erected. From what I saw in Salt Lake City, which was under heavy security after the events of 9/11, the Olympics brought a great deal of money into the local economy. There's got to be some trickle down in there somewhere. I don't think only the new buildings, existing hotels and restaurants were the only ones to profit. The people who make money turn around and spend it, and much of it right in the same area where they live. The highway improvements alone benefit everyone who ever drives there, and the area is subject to quite a bit of tourist traffic. Tourists, in turn, continue to boost the economy. But tourists will not go to places with high degrees of civil unrest.

The way it was handled in Mexico is completely undignified and alarming.

niamh said...

@snowcatcher - it's shocking to be honest, no sport is worth anyone's life. Salt Lake City sounds much more like what the IOC would hope for, what any athlete would like to see happening after the Olympics. Roads are so important right, if only that was that happens. It's very disturbing to read the other things, and in light of the riots in London, you have to wonder how hard the police would go in if anything happens? Still, we live in hope that all will be well and happy.