January 20, 2010

The Olympic Legacy So Far...

The 2010 winter games are almost upon us. For some, this means the coffers are about to overflow with Olympic riches. But for the rest of us, the 2010 games and the lead up to them has represented little more than a triathlon to the bottom.

Since preparations began for the games, homelessness in Vancouver has increased from 1,000 to over 2,500 and is estimated to reach as high as 6,000 as the full effect of the Olympics hits the housing market this winter. At the same these homeless have been criminalized by laws that fine the homelessness for simply trying to survive, and give police the power to round up homeless people in order to present a thoroughly untrue pristine image to the wealthy tourists who will descend on Vancouver this February.

While the poor have been hit hard, organized labour has also been attacked because of the Olympics. Some examples would include the workers of Hastings Race Track. Due to the proximity of their workplace to an Olympic venue, it was been included in an Olympic “security zone” and cannot operate during the games. While compensation has been provided to the employer, none has been forthcoming to the workers who will be unemployed during this time. Instead they were told to go find jobs with the Olympics. Another, more well known, example is of course BC Paramedics who were legislated back to work in November of 2009. The legislation, Bill 21, came during voting on a “final offer” Collective Agreement submitted by the government. Bill 21 a continuation of Liberal government policy aimed at eliminating the most basic rights of trade union workers such as the right to bargain a Collective Agreement and the right to strike. It is no secret that the apparent urgency of this legislation came from the demands of VANOC to end the dispute before the Olympics began.

The Olympics have been an environmental catastrophe as well. Construction for the Olympics has led to tens of thousands of trees being cut down, thousands of tons of concrete being used, mountainsides being blasted, destruction of wildlife and fish habitat and more. Just look at Eagle Ridge Bluffs; once a beautiful natural site, now an otherwise unnecessary highway.
The effects of this hit First Nations people, who’s unceded and non-surrendered lands it all takes place on, especially hard. With no resolution to First Nations title and rights issues in sight, the Liberal government bulldozes ahead with the Olympic project which will bring untold wealth to the corporate ruling class while First Nations continue to suffer the highest rates of poverty and unemployment.

The poverty and misery inflicted by an economic system in crisis and the worsened effects brought by the Olympics will no doubt lead to skyrocketing levels of petty crime, drug addiction, imprisonment, prostitution, suicide and other horrors primarily affecting the working class, youth, and the poor.

The answer presented by the capitalist class and its governments is a police state. The Olympics have a long history of association with fascist, police state regimes and with racism. After all, the modern Olympics were founded by French Baron, Pierre de Coubertin, who saw the games as a way to strengthen French colonialism. The beloved torch relay in its modern form originated at the 1936 Olympic Games in Nazi Germany. In 1968, the Mexico City games were preceded by the massacre of 300 protesting students. While Nazi salutes were deemed acceptable in 1936, two athletes who gave the black power salute in 1968 were stripped of their medals.
Claims that the Vancouver Olympics are different are difficult for most to believe when considering that 12,500 police, military and private security will be deployed in Vancouver and Whistler during the games. Surveillance cameras are turning up on street corners, on busses, at Olympic venues and wherever else deemed appropriate by those providing “security” during the Olympics. The same “security” also includes 40km of crowd control fencing and a sonic crowd control device which uses painfully loud blasts of sound to disperse protestors who exercise their constitutional rights outside of select “free speech zones,” and other “undesirables.” Anti-Olympics activists have already faced threats and harassment from police while at home, and at work. In some cases, family members and friends have also received visits.

These are just a few examples of how the 2010 Olympics have been, and will be, a catastrophe for working people and the poor in BC. Not least, the games will be a disaster for youth, the majority of whom can by no means afford to attend any of the Olympic Games but yet will be forced to pay for them for years to come, to raise their children in a soiled environment, and to live with the possible continued existence of draconian “security” measures. All of this and more is ours for only $6 billion dollars of tax payer money. The Olympics represent an offensive of the corporate ruling class against the rights and interests of the working class and the poor. The highly lauded “Olympic legacy” is one of impoverishment, homelessness, environmental destruction, trampling of First Nations, repression, and corporate greed, all at tax payer expense. The question left to be answered is what legacy of resistance will follow it.

Visit the Olympic Resistance Network website: http://no2010.com/
- Comments

1 comment:

  1. Keep in mind that Eagleridge Bluffs was blasted apart with full support of the Squamish Nation (or at least its leadership). Chief and council were not bought off with trinkets this time but rather with short term jobs and parcels of land. Still, they bought in and only two native people ever arrived at Eagleridge to oppose it before it was blasted apart.


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