17th Jun 2012 6:09pm | By Frankie Mullin
It's fewer than 50 days to go until the Olympics. But not everyone's happy about it. We talk to those protesting against London 2012
Mild bitching about the Olympics is no more surprising than complaining about the weather. However, with reports of costs exceeding their £9.3bn budget, forced evictions and sponsors using sweatshop labour or having links to environmental disasters, some Londoners are taking a more serious view. In February, Mark Ronson and Katy B turned up in Hackney Wick, east London, for the unveiling of a Coca-Cola-sponsored Olympics mural. Three days later, it was vandalised. “I was on my way to work a couple of mornings after the mural was finished and there were two guys on the street in their pyjamas throwing paint at it,” a woman who lives nearby said.
For other Londoners, the Games have disturbed their lives to such an extent, they’re preparing to take to the streets to let their feelings known.Umbrella organisation Counter Olympics Network (CON)’s spokesman Julian Cheyne was evicted when his home in east London’s Clay’s Lane estate was demolished to make way for the Olympic park. “London 2012 should be renamed Lying 2012,“ he says. “The state knows that the Olympics won’t deliver the results they are promising. The event is really about trying to take over a large piece of east London as a prime opportunity for property developers.”
He has an ally in author Anna Minton who, on July 5, as part of the Southbank Centre’s London Literature Festival 2012, will join a range of speakers, including writer Will Self and sociologist Saskia Sassen to discuss the impact of the Olympics on London.
“My concern is that the much-talked-about legacy will just create enclaves of development that the local community will be cut off from,” Minton says. She is particularly angry about the privatisation of development, including the fact that the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – supposed to become a public park – will be run by private companies.
Within the CON, groups target specific issues, such as preserving Leyton Marsh (saveleytonmarsh.wordpress.com); opposing Dow Chemical’s sponsorship of the Games over its link with the Bhopal gas leak that killed thousands in India in 1984 (dropdownow.org); highlighting the environmental record of Olympic sponsors BP (greenwashgold.org); and calling for Team GB kit-makers Adidas to end its alleged use of 34p-an-hour sweatshop labour (waronwant.org).