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Sponsors give lie to healthy Games

Kerry-Anne Mendoza reports on corporate monopolies and security clamp-downs

A

s athletes make their final preparations and construction of the Olympics' venues continues apace, campaign group Our Olympics alongside a rainbow coalition of activist groups prepares to make London 2012 the greatest act of civil disobedience of our time.

The cost of the Games in London's successful 2005 bid was £2.37bn. Today, it stands at £11bn in direct taxpayer contributions. According to Jules Boycoff, writing in The Guardian in April 2012, the figure has been reported as high as £24bn if enabling projects are taken into consideration. Given that we are being told our vital welfare and community services should be rationed and removed due to austerity, the extravagance of the London 2012 Olympics seems hypocritical to some and offensive to others.

The corporate sponsor list of this Olympics reads like a who's-who of corporate mis-endeavour. The Olympics, branded 'the greatest ever', is being sponsored by BP, who recently settled a $7.8bn lawsuit following one of the biggest oil spills in history, and by Dow Chemicals who have refused to clean up the Bhopal disaster inherited from Union Carbide. An Olympics said to promote healthy, active lifestyle has agreed a food and drinks branding monopoly with McDonald's, Coca Cola and Cadbury. Meanwhile, the Paralympic Games is being sponsored by the multibillion-Euro IT and Healthcare conglomerate ATOS. A controversial choice of sponsor, given that this company instigated 'work capability assessments' which forced many ill and disabled people into work that they felt they were not actually fit for.

There is a vast security network set up around the games. Branding police scour the venues for home-made sandwiches. The list of security hardware reads like an Orwellian tick-list for a dystopic state, including a warship on the Thames and missiles on the roofs of homes. Human rights organisation such as Liberty are increasingly reporting security clampdowns including pre-emptive Olympic ASBOs, which ban people deemed a protest threat from going within 100m of the Olympic sites. Local youths are facing curfews, dispersal orders and increased stop-and-search powers.

A great concern of campaign groups such as Our Olympics is that these regressive changes in legislation and security architecture will become the real legacy of London 2012.

This is an edited version of an article in Occupy Times 14/06/12. Find OurOlympics online at www.ourolympics.org or on Twitter: @ourolympics