London Stalling: the Olympic Opposition

by : Andrew Regan



When it was announced that London had successfully won its bid to host the 2012 Olympics, the nation rejoiced. After all, along with the World Cup, no other sporting event brings as much pride, prestige and investment to a country.

But even before the capital was proclaimed winner, there were anti-Olympic organisations springing up on the web. No2London2012.org, HackTheBid.org and CriticalMassLondon.org.uk all tried in vain to stop London from being successful in their Olympic bid. Their reasons were varied; they claimed that construction work associated with Olympic sites in the Lea Valley would destroy, or make unavailable for several years, a large number of existing quality football pitches which local people use intensively, and that there was no guarantee that the new or "improved" sports facilities developed for the Olympics would be later available to local people for free or at a reasonable cost.

They also pointed out that the games will result in a cost to London council tax payers of ?875 million; money which Londoners need for more pressing priorities like schools, transport, housing, health and other public services. Green arguments were also put forth; they claimed that the Olympic sites would destroy several valued wildlife areas such as Bow Back Rivers and Bulley Point, which the public have supported by conservation work over many years.

Campaigners were also unimpressed by the predicted 7000 new jobs that the government said would be created by the games. Anti-Olympians say these are unlikely to be filled by existing Londoners, (amongst whom construction skills are in scarce supply), resulting in a need for housing for incoming workers, which needs to be addressed before non-housing construction projects are started. Moreover, several thousand jobs will be displaced from the southern Lea Valley, currently an important home for much-needed "bad-neighbour" businesses which cannot easily find alternative sites. And finally, anti-Olympic campaigners said that the Olympic bid had been imposed from above without adequate public consultation about its cost, environmental and other impacts for the city as whole.

However, despite all this, the London bid was successful, and the games must go on. The 2012 logo didn't impress everyone, but though many of the protesters' complaints may have been valid, few can deny that hosting the Olympic Games will bring many advantages to London and the rest of the UK. The cash injection should certainly improve what are deemed socially and economically deprived areas; and with thousands of spectators converging on the capital, shops, restaurants and hotels in London, will enjoy a massive boost in business.

Like it or not, the Olympics are coming to London, so you might as well take advantage of the world's biggest sporting event in your back yard - after all, it's been over half a century since it's come to British soil, and it could be another 50 years until it comes back.