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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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A construction boom and a lost opportunity

Along with all the stirring stuff about Olympics job creation, an Olympics boost to the economy, the Olympics transportation miracle comes the news in a 'government-commissioned report' that the Olympics created a construction boom from the building of venues and infrastructure.


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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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This time it's Locog (not) within budget!

Following the ONS' declarations on its inability to quantify the impact of the Olympics further information has been published on LOCOG's expenditure, which only tends to add to the confusion. LOCOG says it has broken even on costs of £2.4 billion. However, with ticket sales of £659 million, sponsorship of £764 million, £609 million from IOC media earnings and £85 million from merchandising making a total of £2,087 million it still had to rely on a government grant of £111 million for half the cost of the Paralympics and £200 million from 'incomes' (whatever that is!) meaning it did not meet its costs without assistance.


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Running on black: Blacklisting at the stadium?

Back in the Spring of 2011 Daletech Services sacked Frank Morris after he raised concerns about the dismissal of a fellow worker. The co-worker's name had appeared on a blacklist used by Olympics contractors Skanska and Carillion, who were constructing the Media Centre where the dismissed electrician was working. Recently further accusations of blacklisting at the Olympics have been made against Sir Robert McAlpine, who paid Consulting Association £26,842.20, including a spike of £12,839.20 for 5,836 blacklist checks back in the period July to September 2008 shortly after McAlpine started work on the Olympic Stadium in May 2008.


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Barcelona and London: Who tells the story?

When telling the story of Barcelona Professor Muñoz also made some interesting comments about the previous occupants of the docklands area which was cleared to make way for the new gentrified suburb. They were, he said, 'mainly women and squatters'. If I recall the number moved was 55,000, a lot of plainly undesirable women and squatters! Of course, as with the Lea Valley the allegedly derelict nature of the area was also rehearsed. It was after all a docklands area, rather like the industrial land cleared for the London 2012 Olympics, land deliberately used by the city for 'dirty' projects and providing services others preferred not to have on their doorstep but then condemned for those very purposes to justify its seizure. Professor Muñoz referred to the process by which the company redeveloping the site moved from being publicly controlled to privately controlled, as if this somehow justified the loss of housing for the poor. The Barcelona Olympics was supposed to deliver public benefits but failed to do so. As a public project it was for the city and national governments to ensure this occurred but they failed to do this.


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Treat with caution!

Alongside the claim of an Olympics boost to the economy, is the claim of an Olympics jobs boost. It is certainly the case that some temporary jobs will have been created during the summer, but it is entirely unclear how many and these claims have been made without any detailed supporting evidence. The Olympics was supposed to have helped reduce unemployment by some tens of thousands between March and May without any specific information as to what these jobs were long before the Games began and after construction had come to an end. Then again in the third quarter the same claims were made, this time for 100,000 Olympics jobs, once again without any specific evidence. Given that tens of thousands of Olympics jobs had already been claimed for the previous months one has to wonder what all these people were doing. According to the statistics 101,000 more people were in work in London during the summer so it seems all of these are simply credited to the Olympics! The other 'evidence' cited is a claim by the Games' organisers that the Olympics would create around 200,000 jobs, 70,000 of which would be volunteers, so these figures appear to have been swallowed whole as the basis for the jobs boost. Of course all sorts of claims for job creation have been made over the years, some of which have then been disowned by the same organisers who proclaimed them, while in other instances the organisers have been unable to provide any information in support of their projections.


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Olympicsboostsh*t

There is a concerted effort to suggest the Olympics has pulled Britain out of recession. But the BBC has provided an interesting perspective on this. The third quarter is expected to show a 0.7% rise in GDP. The second quarter included an extra bank holiday which knocked the economy by 0.5%, so this deficit was recouped in the third quarter. The remaining 0.2% is accounted for by ticket sales meaning that in reality 'excluding the Olympic and Jubilee effects, growth seems to have been broadly flat'. However, what is curious about this concoction is that, of course, ticket sales actually occurred months ago so could just as easily have been included in those earlier statistics. The fourth quarter is then expected to sink back into deficit.


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Paralympic sponsors kill, injure and disable people

By Steve Rushton

Why are corporations that are responsible for disabling people, and even killing people, allowed to brand their products at the Olympics?

This creates a disturbing hypothetical situation: Paralympians competing in London 2012 may have been disabled by the very corporations that their sporting prowess is promoting. More broadly, this draws attention to the number of people across the world that are disabled, killed and suffer due to corporate activities. The World Health Organisation attributes 1 in 5 deaths in the “developing” world to toxic and industrial pollution alone.[i] The most prolific killers include mining operations, the oil industry and metal production, which are all represented at the Games. A report by the Blacksmith Institute found that over 7 million lives were at risk from mining and ore processing, nearly 5 million from metal smelting, almost 3 million from heavy industry (metal casting, rolling, stamping) and just under 2 million from petrochemical industries.[ii] These sponsors of the Games are alongside companies not taking their responsibility for chemical disasters, who are involved in torture, illegal arms and weapons manufacturing .


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