In the final weeks before the Olympic games begin in Beijing, the Chinese state has cracked down on “undesirables” – human rights activists, migrant workers from western China and the city’s poor.
Six months ago the city authorities ordered the suppression of “illegal activities that tarnish the city’s image and affect the social order”.
People coming to the capital to petition the central government complaints centre, and the supreme court over grievances and injustices, are being rounded up by police and troops and forcibly sent home.
A million migrant workers, central to the construction of the Olympic stadia, have been encouraged to leave.
The southern part of the Olympic site includes highly populated areas south of Tiananmen Square, where many migrant workers and the city’s poor live. The city authorities are building walls to hide these people from view.
Such measures are not new. The sanitisation of Olympic cities has been a feature of all recent games, whether in Seoul, Barcelona or Atlanta.
Meanwhile sponsorship fees for these games are three times greater than the Athens games four years ago, raising $1.5 billion. Something to look forward to when this corporate festival, accessible only to the few global rich who can afford to attend, rolls into London?