Socialist Worker

Cashing in on Olympic gold

The super rich have landed in London for the Olympics, writes Tom Walker, and the brand police are out making sure that no one even uses the word—apart from fat cat sponsors

Issue No. 2313

London has been invaded—by super-yachts. The billionaires’ massive boats have turned up in town as the Olympics gets underway. Up to 100 of the yachts, belonging to the likes of Bill Gates and Roman Abramovich, set sail for the capital.

It’s just the latest symbol of these Olympics for the rich. Such is the level of corporate control over the Games that they’ve got people patrolling London in purple hats for any “unauthorised” use of Olympics words or symbols.

That’s how Cafe Olympic in Stratford, east London was forced to drop its O and become “Cafe Lympic”. Not to mention the butcher in Weymouth told to remove a display of sausages in the shape of the Olympic rings. A small village in Surrey was even banned from holding an “Olympicnic”.

And they want to control what you wear too. So Olympics chief Lord Coe said someone wearing a Pepsi T-shirt wouldn’t get in, “because Coca-Cola are our sponsors and they have put millions of pounds into this”. Would you get in with Nike trainers instead of Adidas? “Probably,” came the reply.

Who are these sponsors they’re so protective of? One of the biggest is McDonald’s. It has built its largest ever restaurant, a two-storey, 1,500-seat monster, at the heart of the Olympic Park. Then there’s Dow Chemical, whose Union Carbide pesticide plant in the Indian city of Bhopal has killed more than 20,000 people.

Some of it is beyond parody. Atos is a proud sponsor of the Paralympics—but is better known for taking benefits from disabled people. And oil giant BP is the official “sustainability partner”, apparently making these the “greenest” Games ever. G4S, the shambolic private security firm, is still in line for £284 million of our money.

Meanwhile toys of the Olympic mascots Wenlock and Mandeville are made in China by workers who are paid just 24p an hour. And Olympics cleaners sleep in prefab huts, with one shower for 75 people.

Millions will enjoy the Olympics for the sport. But it’s the field day for fat cats that we could do without.

London march against corporate takeover

Activists were set to march through east London on Saturday of this week in protest at the corporate Olympics. The march is taking place under the slogan “No Limos, No Logos, No Launchers”

This refers to the controversial Games Lanes, the Olympics’ corporate sponsorship and the missiles stationed on blocks of flats in east London.

It is organised by umbrella group the Counter Olympics Network. After the march there will be speakers from some of the 50 or so campaigns that support the protest, including War on Want, Defend the Right to Protest and several London trades councils.

The local council has tried to ban such “anti-Olympics speeches”. But the protesters were set to launch a legal appeal as Socialist Worker went to press.

Counter Olympics Network supporter Julian Cheyne said, “The Olympics have turned into a corporate festival. To stand by silently would imply we consent to this—and we do not.”

The march assembles at 12 noon on Saturday 28 July at Mile End Park, London E3.

An image problem?

Homeless people are being harrassed as police try to “clear the streets” ahead of the Olympics. And it’s not just happening in London.

London’s Metropolitan police are using the 1824 Vagrancy Act, made law during the Napoleonic Wars. This makes it a crime to sleep rough.

The cops set the start of the Olympics as a “deadline” to get all homeless people out of the capital—though it hasn’t worked as well as they’d hoped.

Now businesses in Cardiff are calling for cops there to follow their lead in time for Olympic football in the city. The law means “vagabonds” can be jailed for up to three months.

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Tue 24 Jul 2012, 16:43 BST
Issue No. 2313
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