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Statewatch: A “clean city”: the Olympic Games and civil liberties by Chris Jones

A report by Statewatch

In 2005, the UK won the right to host the 2012 Olympic Games. Seven years later, the Games are due to begin, but they are not without controversy. Sponsors of the Games – including McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Cadbury’s, BP and, perhaps most controversially, Dow Chemical [1] – were promised “what is chillingly called a ‘clean city’, handing them ownership of everything within camera distance of the games.” [2] In combination with measures put in place to deal with what have been described as the “four key risks” of terrorism, protest, organised crime and natural disasters, [3] these measures have led to a number of detrimental impacts upon civil liberties, dealt with here under the headings of freedom of expression; freedom of movement; freedom of assembly; and the right to protest. The Games will be hosted in locations across the country, but primarily in London, which is main the focus of this analysis.


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This might be a very small, very local Olympics legacy story...

At the end of July 2012 residents of Wick Village rallied to oppose ODA plans for the construction of a new bridge to cross the canal from Gainsborough School. The original bridge had been just for the use of children to get to their playing field on the opposite side of the canal at Arena Fields, a beautiful green space enjoyed by local residents which was destroyed to make way for the Media Centre. The new bridge, however, would include a ramp to allow for possible future public access to the bridge which would take away 30% of residents' communal space and leave the rest unusable. It also meant there was a danger their estate would become a through route for people trying to reach the Media Centre. Residents thought they had succeeded in defeating the plans when the ODA (not Hackney!) turned down the proposal.

However, things have followed a familiar pattern where the Olympics are concerned. After the latest meeting to discuss the revised plans one of the original objectors, Dee Dee O'Connell, tweeted:

'they're doing almost exactly the same thing as last time. Possibly worse.'


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Blacklisting - Ian Kerr comes clean

So now we have it from the horse's mouth. Ian Kerr of The Counsulting Association has given evidence to the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Select Committee that 'Sir Robert McAlpine, Balfour Beatty and possibly Skanska' had used his services to run blacklisting checks on workers employed on the Olympic Park.


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Sustaining, supporting and reviewing communities

One of the proudest boasts of those promoting the London Olympics was that they saw 'sustaining and supporting' local communities as a key objective. At Clays Lane the first thing the LDA did was lie to residents telling them their estate would be demolished even if the Olympics didn't come. At Leabank Square the ODA threatened legal action for defamation when residents made some pointed remarks about the performance of the community liaison officer on their own estate blogspot. At Wanstead Flats the Government overturned the Epping Forest Act in order to grab a piece of land for a police barracks.


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#atosgames

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Calais: Olympics border control repression

Corporate Games graphicfrom Corporate Watch

Members of the group Calais Migrant Solidarity tell Corporate Watch about how the repression of migrants in Calais increased as a direct result of the London Olympics, how corporations have benefited from this and how Olympics sponsors are causing further problems in France. Calais Migrant Solidarity is part of the No Borders network and works with migrants in Calais to gather evidence of police violence and harassment of migrants and to strengthen resistance to the border regime.


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The Corporate Games!

Following the awarding of the Greenwash Gold Medal to Rio Tinto at a ceremony in Trafalgar Square when custard was poured over 'representatives' of the the three nominated companies, Rio Tinto, BP and Dow Chemical, who were then arrested by over-zealous police, War on Want organised the Adidas Exploitation Not Ok Anywhere Price Tags...


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London Plays Games - Podcast

"Mega-events, such as the Olympic Games, have often been described as a preferred tool of place promotion and marketing and a primary connection between the local and the global. The Olympics are a global spectacle literally taking place in a single locale. Olympic Games are tightly interwoven into the urban economy and (re-)development schemes. They are also an increasingly important driver in the creation of new leisure and consumption spaces and the interests of international property firms. Like all mega-events, the Olympics are almost exclusively urban phenomena that require large public and private investments."


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