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Rio de Janeiro 2016

The Trouble with Stadiums - London and Rio

More trouble with stadiums. Is this a record? For one Summer Games' stadium to remain out of action until after the next Olympics has ended? In London the LLDC has now said the Olympic stadium may not be used until August 2016. West Ham still seems to be the leading bidder in a race with Leyton Orient, Formula One and the UCFB College of Football Business with the NFL a wild card. In typical Olympics fashion Karren Brady has been talking up the jobs that will be created if West Ham win, claiming a thousand jobs will be created at the stadium. And, of course, in case we forget, where the Olympics are concerned property development is at the heart of the project and West Ham expect to make a killing on the redevelopment of their Green Street site

And then there's that budget again. The original cost of the stadium rose from £280m to £496m despite InsidetheGames reporting otherwise! Now a further £200 million may need to be spent on modifying the stadium for its future lessee on top of the £500 million already splashed out on its construction. In the meantime the LLDC will have to pay for the maintenance of the stadium while it lacks a tenant. As if that was not enough, the promise to continue to provide an athletics track has resurfaced as, if the stadium is not equipped with covered seating for one of these lessees, the deal with the IAAF for the Athletics World Championships in 2017 may have to be renegotiated. This could presage further trouble between the BOA and other parts of the Olympic team as S Coe, already a vice-president of the IAAF, has an ambition to head that body and retaining the stadium as an athletics venue is critical to that objective!

Hardly surprisingly after recent controversies the LLDC appears to have adopted a position of extreme caution in its planning. Dennis Hone, new Chief Executive of the LLDA, is reported as saying: “We need to make a decision on which of the four, if any, will provide the best long-term option and the best value for money. But it is important to remember that this is a 100-year lease we are talking about with the Stadium so we have to get it right.” 'If any'!

But London is not the only Olympic city to be experiencing stadium blues. Rio is wracked with controversy over the fate of the famous Maracanã stadium and sports complex. A public hearing into the privatisation of the stadium and complex was interrupted by a demonstration with hundreds expressing their disgust at the manoeuvrings of the authorities. Close on a billion dollars have been spent on programmes to upgrade the facilities. The football stadium has been closed for years as earlier programmes have been reversed. Now, despite promises from politicians like the present Mayor of Rio who said that “the privatization of the Maracanã is inconceivable”, privatisation is the preferred option following a well trodden path in mega events of public money being used to advance private interests. ‘Consultation’ takes the familiar form of presenting an agreed plan and ignoring objections. As Christopher Gaffney writes:

'The expenditure of public money on public works to be handed to private interests that involves the destruction of a top-performing public school, a century-old indigenous heritage site, and two Olympic quality training facilities in order to generate even more profit for Brazil’s richest man, is a perversity that boggles the imagination.'


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What's a favela? Olympics and policing in Rio

What is a favela, a slum or a 100 year old community without services? What happens when the police move in? Gentrification?

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Witness delivers letter to Olympics Organisers on Rio Evictions




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New Videos: Four Communities on Forced Evictions in Rio

Report on Rio evictions by Priscila Néri on Witness.org featured on RioOnWatch Latest News. Priscila was in Rio de Janeiro to plan a video advocacy workshop. The report and four videos follow.


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Rio favela advocate removed from office

To help you stay in touch with news from Brazil Catalytic Communities, which runs Rio Olympics Neighbourhood Watch, has just launched a News Digest. One of their latest stories features the removal of Roberta Fraenkel, the Co-ordinator of the Center for Land and Housing, a group which works for Rio's favela communities.


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It's that mega sports event - eviction

The evictions just go on. Just as Raquel Rolnik, the Special Rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Council on the right to adequate housing, criticised the evictions taking place in Brazil campaigners there claim up to one and a half million people will be displaced across Brazil between now and the 2014 World Cup. That doesn't include the 2016 Olympics.


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UN Special Rapporteur criticises Brazil evictions

Raquel Rolnik, the Special Rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Council on the right to adequate housing, has criticised the evictions taking place in Brazil around the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games. “I am particularly worried about what seems to be a pattern of lack of transparency, consultation, dialogue, fair negotiation, and participation of the affected communities in processes concerning evictions undertaken or planned in connection with the World Cup and Olympics.”


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How No Games Chicago helped kill their 2016 bid

"The 2016 Olympic Bid One Year Later - What We Should've Learned"

Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics was shot down on October 2, 2009. What did we learn from the bid process? What did the bid tell us about Chicago politics and competing visions for economic progress? One year after that decision, Tom Tresser, one of the lead organizers for No Games Chicago (www.nogameschicago.org) will reveal behind-the-scenes details of why activists from around the city came together to derail the bid, what happened when they went to the IOC's World HQ in Switzerland and what happened when they went to Copenhagen.


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