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Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/14921

Posted on 24 July 2012 at 17:30 GMT

Austerity Games highlights plight of young people

As the world's eyes focus on the Olympics, one of the greatest events in the sporting calendar, young people and trade unionists from across the country arrived on Hackney Marshes, east London, to compete in the alternative Austerity Games.

Despite Hackney council's over-zealous banning of the games, closing the toilets and café and locking the car-park gates, the games were a huge success.

The council's attitude is just another example of what has been widely recognised as an officious clampdown on protest and extreme levels of security and protection of corporate sponsorship for the London 2012 Games.

The example of the bagel shop, swooped on for getting into the Olympic spirit and arranging bagels in the shape of the Olympic rings, shows the lengths these drones will go to to protect the likes of Coca-Cola, Samsung and Visa.

Property High Jump at the YFJ Austerity Games, 23.7.12 ,  photo by Paul Mattsson

Property High Jump at the YFJ Austerity Games, 23.7.12 , photo by Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Free from the corporate restraints of the nearby high security-fenced Olympic park, wearing and drinking anything of their choice, the Austerity athletes lined up to highlight the plight of young people in Britain today.

Hardship hurdles and more

Through the eight events the young athletes illustrated the key issues raised in the new Youth Fight for Jobs manifesto, 'A Future for the 99%' - like the soaring housing rental market with our 'Property High Jump'.

The 'Student Debt Weightlifting' showed the crippling situation young people are left with after university.

Student Debt Weights at the YFJ Austerity Games, 23.7.12, photo Paul Mattsson

Student Debt Weights at the YFJ Austerity Games, 23.7.12, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

The 'Job Jump' long jump showed the increasingly common cycle of young unemployed people being forced into unpaid work experience just to be thrown back on the dole queue.

Alongside these were a number of events - 'Hardship Hurdles' and 'Deficit Discus' for example - that challenged this system that has allowed a global elite to hide £13 trillion from the taxman whilst ordinary working people suffer. During the events we also offered a variety of solutions to the crisis.

Hardship Hurdles at the YFJ Austerity Games, 23.7.12, photo by Paul Mattsson

Hardship Hurdles at the YFJ Austerity Games, 23.7.12, photo by Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

But not all our events took up the serious issues and questions facing young people like the ones already mentioned.

The 'Toss the Tory' shot-put as well as the cheating and corrupt bankers' team in their 'trust me I'm a banker' t-shirts added a light-hearted and satirical side to proceedings.

Youth Fight for Jobs 'Austerity Games', 23.7.12, photo by Paul Mattsson

Youth Fight for Jobs 'Austerity Games', 23.7.12, photo by Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

When the curtains come down on the closing ceremony of the Olympics and Paralympics in six weeks time they will leave behind a legacy of increased repression of democratic rights, private housing, expensive and out of reach facilities and a transport system taken to the brink.

Meanwhile, the close of the Austerity Games is just the start of a fightback of young people against this government's brutal writing-off of a whole generation.

Up and down the country young people will be organising regional launches of the Youth Fight for Jobs manifesto and campaigning to bring out the simmering anger and helplessness felt by young people in a coordinated, organised movement for a decent future.

Suzanne Beishon, London Youth Fight for Jobs
YFJ Austerity Games, 23.7.12, photo Paul Mattsson

YFJ Austerity Games, 23.7.12, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

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YFJ Austerity Games, the winning team, 23.7.12, photo Paul Mattsson

YFJ Austerity Games, the winning team, 23.7.12, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

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YFJ Austerity Games, 23.7.12, photo Paul Mattsson

YFJ Austerity Games, 23.7.12, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

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YFJ Austerity Games, 23.7.12, photo Paul Mattsson

YFJ Austerity Games, 23.7.12, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

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YFJ Austerity Games, 23.7.12, photo Paul Mattsson

YFJ Austerity Games, 23.7.12, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

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YFJ Austerity Games, 23.7.12, photo Paul Mattsson

YFJ Austerity Games, 23.7.12, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

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This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 24 July 2012 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

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