Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/612/8856

From The Socialist newspaper, 17 February 2010

Winter Olympics: Shortage of snow but no shortage of debts?

THE 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics have started in the Vancouver-Whistler area of Canada. Many Canadians are looking forward to the sports and hoping for gold, especially in ice-hockey. However there are growing concerns about the costs and problems the Olympics will cause.

Socialist Alternative (CWI in Canada) reporter, Vancouver

The Montreal Olympics, in 1976, give a stark reminder of the huge expense involved. Before those games, Montreal's mayor, Jean Drapeau, said that "the Olympics can no more have a deficit than a man can have a baby". But the games cost the city $1 billion and the debt for the games was only paid off in 2006 - 30 years later!

People in Vancouver were assured the games would not result in a huge debt burden, but that now looks less likely. The City of Vancouver carried out major cuts to services this year, while spending an unknown sum on the Olympics though it is certainly several tens of millions of Canadian dollars.

The province of British Columbia (BC) has also fired workers, cut funding for schools and libraries, and art funding has almost been abolished, with cuts of over 90%. Canada's federal government is also cutting services while pouring money into the Olympics.

Rising costs

When Vancouver was awarded the games, the cost of security was estimated at $175 million, now it is $900 million, a five-fold increase. 25,000 people are involved with this security. Worryingly, the police put terrorists, protesters and homeless people in the same sentence when talking about the issues they may have to deal with. We could see aggressive police behaviour during these games. Already they have planted undercover agents among protesters.

There has been some construction but one of the biggest costs was upgrading the one road connecting Whistler to Vancouver beside towering mountains. A railway line runs along this route but the province decided to spend at least $600 million and damaged key environmental areas, to widen the highway.

The construction involved blasting granite mountainsides. The railway line has had no investment and is still only used for freight - what a missed opportunity!

Around Vancouver, roads are closed, transport is disrupted, stores face inconvenience, and people are warned to expect long delays waiting for buses as Olympic traffic takes priority.

This winter's weather has been mild and there is so little snow on the nearby mountains for some competitions that the Olympic organisers used trucks and helicopters to bring in snow for the games!

The organisers go to great lengths to protect the commercial interest of the sponsors. The City of Vancouver has introduced a by-law, claiming it is to protect Olympic sponsors, that bans 'illegal signage'. It allows the authorities to remove posters from people's homes, and restricts the right to hand out protest leaflets.

Environmental damage

As resentment at the inconvenience and cost of the Olympics grows, the City of Vancouver gave its staff a120-page glossy handbook, with 'guidance' on how to behave during the Olympics. It had such gems of advice as workers should wear socks that match the colour of their trousers, should always smile gently, and must not put their hands in their pockets or cross their arms.

But, at the same time, some city staff are losing their jobs and all Vancouver will have reduced services, as the city's employees are busy on Olympic duties.

The games will see some great athletic achievements. Canada may win some gold medals and there will be some good parties. But will it have been worth all the money, environmental damage and inconvenience?

No doubt, when the Olympics are over, the people of Vancouver, BC and Canada will have huge bills to pay. There will be some new sports facilities and a new highway. But the same amount of money could have been spent improving sporting facilities and developing the economy and environment in a planned and integrated way.

After it is all over, Vancouver will still have a big homeless problem and the environment will have taken a hit. London: get ready for 2012!

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


In The Socialist 17 February 2010:

Fight council cuts!


Socialist Party campaigns

Nominate Roger Bannister: Council workers need a fighting union

Notts Tories attack the vulnerable


Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

TUSC to fight cuts in Spelthorne

New TUSC sponsors


Socialist Party news and analysis

New health inequality report reveals widening class divide

Ministers and MI5 colluded in the cover-up of torture

BNP's phoney changes

Fast news


Workplace analysis

The construction industry blacklist: Paltry punishment for attacks on workers

Oppose university cuts - defend jobs


Socialist Students

Sussex student union elections: Support for socialist campaigners

Student places crisis


Youth fight for jobs

Youth Fight for Jobs: Leeds march for jobs and education


Socialist Party feature

Wales: New challenges for socialists

Celebrate May Day this year with The Socialist


International socialist news and analysis

Greece: Massive public sector workers' strike against savage austerity plans

Capitalist crisis threatens the eurozone project

Winter Olympics: Shortage of snow but no shortage of debts?

Protests as Canada's Tories suspend parliament


 

Facebook   Twitter



Home   |   The Socialist 17 February 2010   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Bookshop






Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter



Related links:

Olympics:

triangleBrighton solidarity with LGBTQ+ Russians

triangleSochi winter Olympics - -breaking all records!

triangleLondon Olympics legacy - one year on

triangleThe Olympics: Sport for all, or just for the elite?

Canada:

triangleThem & Us

triangleQuebec: Students engage in 'indefinite' general strike action

triangle'Slutwalk' protests: Women reject sexism

Construction:

triangleReports from the NSSN bulletin

trianglePower station builders walk out over blacklisting

Debt:

triangleNational student demo

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

18/12/14

London

Foyles Living Wage campaign

15/12/14

Lewisham

'Save Sedgehill': demo against forced academy

12/12/14

Russell Brand

BBC's Question Time

12/12/14

Police

One-day strike of police staff

12/12/14

Leicester

Leicester "Cops off Campus" demo

11/12/14

Ireland

Solidarity with Irish anti-water charges movement

10/12/14

Socialism

We have a world to win!

10/12/14

Socialist Students

Socialist Students: fight for free education

10/12/14

Rail

Rail franchise jobs: TUPE or not TUPE?

10/12/14

Lambeth

Students join Lambeth walkout

10/12/14

Bristol

Sharpak Yate packaging strike

10/12/14

Appeal

Election appeal: finding cash to fight the cuts

10/12/14

East London

Campaign news in brief

10/12/14

London

Same job - we want the same pay!

10/12/14

Socialist

As Russell Brand prepares to take on Farage ...

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

triangle15 Dec 'Save Sedgehill': demo against forced academy

triangle12 Dec BBC's Question Time

triangle12 Dec One-day strike of police staff

triangle11 Dec Put CIA torturers and paymasters in the dock

A striking Belgian firefighter

triangle10 Dec Europe: a new wave of workers' struggle has begun

We are the 99%, photo Paul Mattsson

triangle10 Dec We have a world to win!

triangle10 Dec Uprising against police violence in the US

More ...

triangle5 Jan Wirral Socialist Party: Venezuela

triangle7 Jan Leicester Socialist Party: Greens - an electoral alternative?

triangle8 Jan Swansea, Llanelli & West Wales Socialist Party: CWI report

triangle12 Jan Wirral Socialist Party: Stalinism Vs Socialism

More ...

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Find us on Facebook

Archive

Categories

1-9 

1-9 


Archives:

December 2014

November 2014

October 2014

September 2014

August 2014

July 2014

June 2014

May 2014

April 2014

March 2014

February 2014

January 2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice