Suzanne Beishon, London organiser, Youth Fight for Jobs and Education
A staggering £24 billion is expected to be spent on the Olympic Games, but young people face little enjoyment and no long term benefit from this costly outlay.
The inaccessible ticketing system means that most people living on the doorstep of the games will be watching the events through TV screens. Promises of jobs, homes and services from the Olympics already lie in the gutter.
An Olympic Development Authority report showed that, from 2008 until 2011, only 1,580 unemployed people got jobs on the Olympic site. Only 205 were from the Hackney Olympic borough.
Rents have soared during the run-up to the games. Landlords seeking to take advantage of the event are forcing people out of their homes if they can’t afford more cash.
While council house waiting lists are through the roof, of the measly 2,818 homes that will be left from the Olympic village only 675 will be social housing with six boroughs sharing 107 of those and Newham having the leftovers.
Democratic rights during the games are under attack with exclusion zones that include putting 9pm curfews on under-16s until the start of November, giving the police the right to disperse groups of two or more, and the right to remove anti-Olympic posters and propaganda. As well as this, council tower block tenants face having missiles on their rooftops as part of the Olympic security operation.
While the rich get ready for their costly few weeks of fun, young people face a future of poverty and inequality with rising university fees, the slashing of Education Maintenance Allowance, soaring rents, slave-labour workfare schemes and sky-high unemployment. All of this is to pay for a crisis created by the banks and big business.
We are told that there is no money for jobs and education, while the bill for the Olympics continues to rise. Yet £750 billion is sitting in big business bank accounts as these fat cats see no ‘profitable outlets’ for investment.
We’re getting organised to demand that the fantastic facilities built for the Olympics, instead of being demolished or sold to the private sector, be used to provide genuinely affordable housing and leisure facilities to benefit local communities.
Young people and trade unionists from across the country will be sending teams to Hackney Marshes to compete in the Austerity Games on 23 July, the week before the Olympics.
The games will launch the Youth Fight for Jobs and Education Manifesto, ‘A Future for the 99%’. Our athletic events will highlight the plight of young people in the shadow of these expensive and corporate Olympic Games. These include the Race to the Bottom, Job Jump, Property High Jump, Deficit Discus, Hardship Hurdles and more.