Mapping Olympic Resistance and Exploitation project

  • graphic created by Corey Rollins

    graphic created by Corey Rollins

  • Date

    January 12 - 24

  • What

    We are asking anyone and everyone to take part. Even if you have never watched the olympics or follow the games devoutly. Whether you have looked into issues around the games before or have never thought about it before this email, please take part in this project!

    A large map and/or zine will be created from the information that is gathered. Please email [email protected] with your choice of country and olympic games as soon as you can.
    Let us know by January 24th what you have found.

    What we are looking for in submissions:
    -200-600 words, include an image if possible
    -please cite sources when you can
    -year, city
    -impact on people and environment (in terms of houses lost, people relocated, or actions taken to "clean-up" communities, anything you see appropriate)
    -histories of resistance in other locations
    -alternatives to the Olympics as we know them
    -if you want to help with organizing the information we get, and/or are interested in helping more with this project let us know

    Starting points for your research:

    “The desire to show off a city & make it an attractive tourist destination is often accompanied by a process of sanitation- clean-ups of public areas facilitated by criminalization of homelessness & increases in police powers… to make it more attractive for the local, national and international elites.”
    (Fair Play for Housing Rights, p. 22)

    “Although the IOC rule demanded a protest-free zone, it did not specifically require the street sweeps that by the late 1980s had become a standard feature of most hallmark events. On these occasions, homeless people, sex trade workers, and beggars were harassed by police, evicted from downtown neighborhoods, and often arrested. Such sweeps have been documented during all Summer Olympics since 1984—Los Angeles, Seoul, Barcelona, and Atlanta…”
    (Inside the Olympic Industry, pp. 108-109)

    2. Olympic Debt
    Olympic Games are notorious for leaving host cities with large public debts, the result of venue construction, expansion of infrastructure, and security costs:

    • The 1976 Montreal Olympics acquired a debt of some $1.2 billion (which was finally paid off in 2002)

    • The 1988 Calgary Olympics left a debt of $910 million

    • Barcelona 1992 had a debt of $1.4 billion

    • The Sydney 2000 Olympics, portrayed as self-financing, in reality left a debt of some $2.3 billion

    • The 2004 Athens Olympics, originally estimated to cost $1 billion, mushroomed to at least $9 billion

    For 2010, VANOC and Olympic promoters have stated the total costs to be approximately $2 billion, paid for largely through corporate sponsors and ticket & merchandise sales. They claim the Games will be self-financing. In reality, the total cost for 2010 and related construction will be closer to $6 billion!

    3. 2010 & Homelessness
    Since Vancouver-Whistler was announced as host city for the 2010 Winter Olympics in 2003, Vancouver has experienced large-scale evictions and dislocation of urban poor. This has dramatically increased homelessness.
    According to PIVOT Legal Society, the number of homeless in 2002 was just over 620. This nearly doubled to 1,291 by 2005 (estimates on the numbers of homeless are generally considered low). At the same time, hundreds of low-income Single Room Occupancy (SRO) units have been lost in the Downtown Eastside (DTES). Most were hotels forced to close either by owners seeking to demolish or renovate them into upscale hotels for the Olympic/tourist industry, or by City council forcing the closure of buildings that violated fire, health or safety codes.
    According to the PIVOT, over 800 people lost their low-income SRO units between June 2003 and June 2006 (Mathew Burrows, “Low-wage housing squeezed,” The Georgia Straight, July 13, 2006). These figures do not include those evicted due to rent increases.
    At the same time, there has been an increase in the number of homeless women:
    “According to the 2005 GVRD [Greater Vancouver Regional District] Homelessness Count, there has been an increase of 60 % in the number of homeless women since the 2002 count.”
    (“Women’s Center shelter extended to July,” Carnegie Community Action Project (CCAP Newsletter, Apr 1, 2007)

    In 2007, the city estimated the homeless population in downtown Vancouver at 2,000 (PIVOT claims this number to be at least 2,500). It is projected that the number of homeless by 2010 will be as high as 6,000.

    4. Clear-Cut City: Callaghan Valley
    The Whistler Olympic Center is a large complex being built in the Callaghan Valley, near Whistler. (It was originally called the Nordic Center, but perhaps this was too obvious). Although there was some logging in the area, it still contained large amounts of old growth forest and was largely untouched.

    Construction of the Nordic Center will result in large-scale ecological destruction, with between 89,000 to 126,000 trees cut down (according to Chris Shaw, Five Ring Circus, draft copy, p. 420). For comparison, some 10,000 trees were knocked down during severe wind storms in 2007 in Stanley Park (which caused a public outpouring of grief).

    This mass deforestation will result from some 50 km of new cross-country ski trails, along with parking lots, 3 stadiums, 2 ski jumps, a biathlon route, a Nordic day lodge, as well as maintenance facilities inc. sewage, water, & power.

    The entire area of the Whistler (Nordic) Olympic Center itself is to be 260 hectares in size. Construction for this venue has included building a 9 km access road.

    In the summer of 2007, a record number of black bears were hit by vehicles on the Sea-to-Sky Highway, about twice the usual number. At least 11 died, while the remainder dragged themselves into the forest, to recover or to die later.

    In addition, conservation officers in the area responded to a much larger number of complaints regarding bear-human interactions. According to conservation officer Chris Doyle,

    “It has been probably the busiest July and August for the conservation office in Whistler since records have been kept.”
    (“Conflict deadly for bears,” by Clare Ogilvie, The Province, September 18, 2007)

    According to Sylvia Dolson of Whistler’s Get Bear Smart Society,

    “This valley bottom is an important habitat for bears… Now we are continuing to develop and clearcut areas like the site of the [2010 Winter Olympics] Athletes Village, which is in prime bear habitat. We have to ask ourselves, ‘Where else are they supposed to feed?’”
    (The Province, September 18, 2007)

    For more information please read "Massacres and Profits: A brief history of the Olympics" by Maryann Abbs on the no2010.com site. http://no2010.com/node/17

  • Where

    Help gather information about the other side of the Olympic games.

    The Olympic Games, including the ones set for February in Vancouver, have had a long history of human rights violations and environmental destruction. We are hoping you can help map current and past resistance to the Olympics and the reasons for which many people across the globe have mobilized against the games.

  • When

    submissions due by January 24, 2010

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