In every city [the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions] examined, the Olympic Games – accidentally or deliberately – have become a catalyst for mass evictions and impoverishment. Since 1988, over 2 million people have been driven from their homes to make way for the Olympics. The games have become a licence for land grabs.Monbiot's article is directed at London, host of the 2012 Summer Games, but it certainly applies to us as well. While those getting the shaft will be mostly voiceless poor people (as usual), it doesn't always work out that way. For example, a story in this week's Chicago Reader describes the battle in Lake County over the proposed Olympic equestrian center. After reading Monbiot's brief history of Olympic displacement, I have little doubt that the equestrian center will be built regardless. At least he offers a solution in his conclusion:
None of this is an argument against the Olympic Games. It is an argument against moving them every four years. Let them stay in a city where the damage has already been done. And let it be anywhere but here.That makes good sense for countless reasons (environmental, logistical, organizational, etc.), but I doubt it will ever happen. The International Olympic Committee thoroughly enjoys watching civic leaders from around the world grovel every time another host city is about to be named. The Olympics are big business, and a permanent location would spoil all of their fun.
(Note: In the past, I've posted positive comments about the 2016 Olympics on other blogs. Right now, consider me conflicted; I haven't decided whether it's good or bad overall. Of course, it matters little because those decisions will be made without regard for the common Chicagoan's opinion anyway.)