Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/546/6360

From The Socialist newspaper, 3 September 2008

Comment

Winners and losers at the Beijing Olympics

Many people across the world, particularly young people, will have been entertained and not a little inspired by many of the athletic performances in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Peter Glover

Despite the hype, sport plays an important part in many people's lives. Unlike some, such as the editor of Socialist Worker, who maintains that "sport represents a tyranny over human effort by machines, the watch and arbitrary rules" (9 August), most workers enjoy sport and see through some of the commercial excesses committed in the name of sport. The Olympic Games are symbolic of the use of sport by the rich and powerful for their own ends.

The Beijing Olympics may be over but they have left behind a dazzling array of monuments. Chinese workers have been engaged in one of the biggest building projects in human history, yet the human, ecological and financial cost is staggering.

Beijing airport's new Terminal 3, twice the size of the Pentagon, is the biggest building in the world. Designed by Norman Foster (who built the wobbly bridge across the Thames), it cost $3.8 billion and can handle more than 50 million passengers a year!

Beijing airport was completed, amazingly, in less than four years. Jeff Martin, deputy project manager for Siemens, one of the main contractors, said the reason for the prompt completion was simple: "There is so much available labour. If I say we need 500 extra workers tomorrow, then I will get them. In the US, you would have to go through unions and it would take much, much longer."

Human rights trampled

Forced relocation of residents also contributed. Managers say 10,000 people have been "resettled" for this building alone (Guardian 13 September 2007). The Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions claims that up to one million residents of Beijing have been displaced by the Olympic building programmes, many of them evicted against their will.

According to a 2004 report in Architectural Record, China consumes 54.7% of the concrete and 36.1% of the steel produced in the world. China's elite want to project the confident image of a new superpower, with state of the art buildings to match their massive ambition.

The Bird's Nest stadium required 50,000 tons of steel rods, costing $400 million. This was based on low pay. Labourers on the site earned just 3 a day and skilled welders earned 4.40 a day. Seven-days-a-week working was required (The Times 20 January 2008). Ding Zhenkuan, deputy chief of the Beijing Bureau of Work Safety, told a news conference: "There were two deaths in the Bird's Nest, one in 2006 and one in 2007". Believe it if you will.

The total cost of the Beijing Olympics may exceed $44 billion which equates to $100 million per gold medal! But the environmental and social cost of the Chinese elite's drive to make China a superpower is even more costly.

With the Games over, the neglect of the working people of China can be measured on a truly epic scale. A World Bank report, entitled 'Cost of pollution in China', revealed up to 760,000 people die prematurely each year in China because of air and water pollution. The athletes have gone home but the workers and farmers of China still breathe the poisonous air.

In 2007 China surpassed the US as the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide, putting out 6,200 million tons even in comparison with America's gigantic 5,800 million. This scale of pollution cannot be sustained for long. There is a crisis in Chinese society. The Chinese working class is the only force that can rescue the country from this catastrophe.

Perhaps the most inspirational story of the Olympics was not Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt or Chris Hoy but two elderly women, Mrs Wu and Mrs Wang, both in their late 70s, in poor health and illiterate.

Their story was told by Channel 4 News. Both women were sentenced to a year of "re-education through labour" ie a labour camp, after they applied to protest against the inadequate compensation the local authority offered them when their homes were demolished seven years ago. The fearless women were filmed chasing government spies down the street, which is probably the most meaningful image of the 2008 Olympic Games and a forecast of the coming workers' movement in China.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 3 September 2008:

'Them and us' economy hits the rocks

Inequality - the world's deadliest disease!


Socialist Party editorial

Russia / Georgia war exposes limits of West


Socialist Party workplace news

Trades Union Congress: Building a real leadership against the bosses

John Mc Donnell MP protests at Unison witch-hunt

London buses: Strikers pack picket lines

Fight threat to Ford Transit plant jobs

Coastguards strike over bank holiday in pay protest


Socialist Party feature

Building a new workers' party: trade unionist initiative needed

Building industrial militancy


International socialist news and analysis

Poland: Biggest workers' demo since the 1990s


Socialist Party campaigns

Terry Fields memorial meeting

Arrested for selling The Socialist

Opposing the far right

Winners and losers at the Beijing Olympics

Water quality threat to health

Adding colour to The Socialist


Socialist Students

School and college students fighting back!


Socialist Party review

Inside Egypt: the land of the Pharaohs on the brink of a revolution


Socialist Party NHS campaign

NHS: Save our casualty unit!

NHS 'surplus' = cuts in care

Swollen profits, suffering patients


 

Home   |   The Socialist 3 September 2008   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Olympics:

triangleInvest in grassroots sports needs

triangleWould you call G4S for help over discrimination?

triangleBarcelona 1936: the people's Olympics

triangleFilm review: Eddie the Eagle

triangleAthletics doping scandal: big business profits behind global sports corruption

China:

triangleA world in crisis, ripe for revolution

triangleCampaign against political repression in Hong Kong

triangleKorean peninsula: is nuclear war likely?

Olympic Games:

triangleThe shame of sexism in sport

triangleYFJ protests against big business takeover of Cardiff

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments

10/1/18

Housing

Debate: should tower blocks form part of socialist housing policy?

10/1/18

Art

Art can help expose sexual harassment

10/1/18

The Socialist

The Socialist Inbox

3/1/18

Letters

The Socialist inbox

3/1/18

Work Capability Assessment

Tory prescription for mental illness: stress and bureaucracy

13/12/17

The Socialist

The Socialist's 2017 quiz

6/12/17

Fire

The Socialist Inbox

6/12/17

Surrey

Comment: Socialism and truth about Zane

6/12/17

Labour Party

Blairite horror and Labour's divisions graphically exposed

30/11/17

Theatre

Dramatic retelling of Grunwick strike

22/11/17

Working class

Left comic's take on politics will have you in tears

22/11/17

Letters

The Socialist inbox

15/11/17

The Socialist

The Socialist Inbox

15/11/17

Abortion

TV review: Abortion on Trial - hard-hitting look at impact of 1967 act

15/11/17

Vietnam war

Comprehensive account of bloody conflict

triangleMore Reviews and comments articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle16 Jan Home care workers to strike

triangle15 Jan Carillion crisis: Demand action to save jobs and services

triangle12 Jan Outrage against 'monster block' plan

triangle12 Jan Mini-strike wave continues and intensifies

triangle10 Jan Strike wins biggest pay rise in ten years

triangle10 Jan Movement of workers and youth challenges Iranian regime

triangle10 Jan Cabinet chaos as shambolic reshuffle underlines Theresa May's...

More ...

triangle16 Jan Bristol North Socialist Party: 'Bad Art' - socialist struggle in the arts

triangle16 Jan Cardiff West Socialist Party: Building socialism in Cardiff in 2018

triangle17 Jan Cardiff Central Socialist Party: Planning for 2018

triangle17 Jan Salford Socialist Party: Housing crisis - the socialist solution

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

January 2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2