> sent by
> a friend. It is long but interesting, can it be on Indymedia, Alex, or
> in a shortened form?Zarina
>> The Athens Olympics start this week in a blaze of hype and publicity.
>> Garganas from Socialist Worker's sister paper in Greece looks at the
>> disastrous effect that hosting the games has had, and what it could
>> the 2012 Olympics come to London
>> THE OLYMPICS seem to be an innocent enough event. Who could object to
>> having some fun and watching sport? Won't ordinary people benefit if
>> Olympics come to London and areas are regenerated?
>> But the promised regeneration didn't happen when the games were held
>> Sydney or Atlanta. In Barcelona ordinary people found their community
>> housing was swept away, and replaced with posh flats and an area
>> geared to
>> the tourist trade.
>> The Olympics in Athens will leave most people in the city worse off.
>> It is the first Olympic Games since George Bush launched his "war on
>> terror". The security budget in Athens is three times more than it
>> was in
>> the Olympics in Sydney, Australia, four years ago.
>> For a small country like Greece to spend almost £1 billion on
>> security is
>> tremendous waste of money. But it's not just the economic pressures.
>> The Greek government has invited NATO to set up a "security umbrella"
>> Athens to protect it from a terrorist attack.
>> The US 6th Fleet will be in the Aegean, patrolling the seas. There
>> will be
>> army units coming into Athens to "protect" it from biological and
>> Under the cover of the Olympics, Greece is being drawn deeper into
>> war. This is in a country where over 90 percent of the population is
>> to the war.
>> On top of this, there is the usual cleansing of the city's "unwanted
>> elements" in the run-up to the Olympics. Immigrants and poor people
>> being swept off Athens' streets. They are dumped in special
>> The pollution caused by preparing for the Olympics has been
>> a chemical attack on the city.
>> There has been a huge construction programme of motorway building.
>> to facilitate access to the various Olympic and tourist sites.
>> This has meant a dramatic increase in air pollution.
>> The World Health Organisation recently published a report saying the
>> for dangerous small particles in the air should be ten microgrammes
>> cubic metre.
>> The average in Athens last year was 56 microgrammes throughout the
>> Yet the European Union says this level should not be breached for more
>> 35 days a year.
>> At the moment the level for London is below 20 microgrammes. Be
>> a dramatic worsening in air quality if the Olympics come to London.
>> The rush to complete the various sites for the Olympic facilities
>> construction boom, which many people hailed for providing employment.
>> But, under the pressure that things must happen quickly, construction
>> companies were given a licence to break all rules and regulations.
>> They could do anything they liked. There were no safety regulations,
>> to the huge cost of 78 construction workers' deaths.
>> The companies believe this is something that they have won.
>> They will keep breaking the rules after the Olympics because it allows
>> to speed up production and be "efficient".
>> Other workers are being pressurised to work in worse conditions
>> during the
>> Olympics. Hospital workers have been forced not to take holidays this
>> There has also been a speculative bubble in real estate in Athens,
>> encouraged by the approach of the Olympics.
>> Rents have been pushed up. Young people are having difficulty finding
>> as are people who want to buy their own house.
>> The Olympics will leave a lot of debt. The original budget was 4.6
>> euros. Now they say it will cost something like 10 billion.
>> This is a huge amount for a small country like Greece.
>> And most of the facilities will be privatised. The Olympics have been
>> to introduce the Private Finance Initiative to Greece.
>> We have had privatisation before, but not private companies coming in,
>> building a site and then owning it for 20 or 30 years.
>> The present government thinks this is such a good idea that they want
>> extend it to schools. The new motorways are toll roads, so drivers
>> have to
>> pay to use them.
>> All this commercialisation is so obvious in the Olympics. Coca-Cola
>> is the
>> sponsor. So everywhere you show the Olympic flame, the symbol of
>> peace and
>> goodwill, you advertise Coca-Cola.
>> But there has also been resistance to what is happening.
>> Ambulance workers and paramedics struck last week over bonuses for the
>> Olympics. Hotel workers have also struck, and other workers are
>> Transport workers have been asked to work longer hours, more flexibly
>> with worse conditions. They have been on strike, saying they will not
>> during the Olympics unless they are paid a £2,000 lump sum.
>> If the Olympics come to London it will be worthwhile considering a
>> to stop the ruling class imposing the same attacks on British workers.
>> Hidden history behind Olympic myth
>> USUALLY WHEN the Olympics are staged by one of the big countries
>> there is
>> appeal to people to "rally round the flag", and highlighting the
>> home team could win.
>> This is an aspect in Greece, but it isn't so important as Greece is
>> not a
>> major sporting power.
>> Instead the establishment have used the argument that "the Olympics
>> returning to the country they were born in. The Greeks must be proud.
>> important to the traditions and the culture of the country."
>> The Olympics in ancient Greece have been idealised as some sort of
>> But they were a war event, an occasion for the rich and powerful to
>> their alliances, and display their wealth and power.
>> For instance, the leader of Athens used the Olympics to launch a war
>> campaign against Sicily.
>> In the races with horses and chariots the winner was the person who
>> the horses and chariots. The credit didn't go to the driver, who was
>> a slave.
>> The history of the Olympics has always been more about money and
>> than sport.
>> The French nationalist Baron de Coubertin revived the Olympics in
>> 1894. He
>> broke with the Olympics in 1928 when women were allowed to compete.
>> The games were used to promote nationalism. After the First World War
>> International Olympic Committee banned the defeated nations and
>> games to "plucky little Belgium".
>> The 1936 Olympics were awarded to Nazi Germany. Hitler opened the
>> games in
>> stadium bedecked with swastikas. The toilets had notices saying "No
>> The Nazis instituted the lighting of the Olympic flame as part of a
>> ceremony" stressing the supposed superiority of whites.
>> But black US athletes won more gold medals than the whole of the
>> team, with Jesse Owens taking four.
>> South Africa was allowed to take part in the Olympics for 22 years
>> introduction of apartheid.
>> A succession of repressive regimes have been selected to host the
>> 1968, ten days before the opening of the Mexico Olympics, the police
>> up to 300 demonstrators who marched for democracy.
>> The South Korean dictatorship evicted 100,000 slum dwellers to make
>> the 1988 games and crushed demonstrations demanding democracy.
>> The Chinese regime is renowned for human rights abuses, yet the
>> host the 2008 games.
>> The Olympics have also seen acts of resistance. The high point was
>> when US
>> black athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos, 200-metre medallists,
>> their fists in the Black Power salute during the 1968 games.