Against the 2004 Olympic games in Athens
22 Jun 2004 03:42 GMT
In August this year Athens, Greece will host the olympic games. This is a revelation of what the games really are, and a call for opposing them.
What the Olympic Games really stand for
The Olympic Games of ancient Greece was a time of peace and celebration of the mind and body, and the athletes were praised for participating, not necessarily winning. A truce was called between cities in war, and winners were awarded an olive tree branch. The olive tree was the favourite tree of Athena, goddess of wisdom, and the award symbolised the non dependence to material goods or money, as ancient Greeks considered a healthy body and mind to be the ultimate human gift. But modern games are governed by these virtues, aren’t they? Far from it! In a war-torn planet, athlete doping, big sponsorship, advertising, ‘antiterrorist’ laws, state fraud and corruption, sick competition, and media hysteria, are the values of today’s olympics.
Multination corporations and nationalist/fascist ideals are the main driving force behind the modern olympics. The first modern games were staged in 1894, following an idea of French baron Coubertin. France had been recently defeated at war by Germany, and Coubertin’s main motive was to lift the fallen French national pride. ‘I will strengthen the weak French youth’ he declared. Strangely enough, those first games were assigned to Greece, ignoring the fact that a dictator was then in power. Forty two years later, the International Olympic Committee assigned the games to the Nazi Germany in 1936, and they offered Hitler a platform to spread and demonstrate his fascist ideas to the globe. The most distinct president of the International Olympic Committee, Juan Antonio Samarang, was a known fascist, close friend of Spanish dictator Franco, under whom he was assigned the Spanish ministry of Sports.
As for what the olympic spirit stands for today, it’s easy to figure out. Have a look around in any olympic event. Adidas, Coca Cola, Nike, Vodafone, McDonalds. Are you familiar with any of that? That is why the games enjoy so much publicity and attention. The athletes are walking advertisement boards, sponsored by multinational corporations, the ones that sponsor war, poverty, slavery and dictatorships for the Third World. When the 1996 Olympics were assigned to Atlanta, the Coca Cola president ‘thanked god for this global olympic market’. Olympic games have nothing to do with sport. They are about corporate and state profit. During this year’s games, the third world war, or ‘war on terror’ as it is so charmingly named, will keep raging, Israel will carry on with the ethnical cleansing of Palestinians, hunger and polluted water will continue the annihilation of children in the Third World, and we will be cheering in overpaid stadiums for athletes bearing the olympic ideal of corporate profit.
The consequences of the 2004 Olympics for Greece
The Athens 2004 Olympics was a project taken over by the Angelopoulos family, a dynasty of Greek billionaires, aiming at personal promotion and profit. The whole plan was backed by the government, despite public opposition. P. Angelopoulos is the owner of the largest steel company in Greece. The factory is based in the city of Elefsina and in almost half a century 50 workers have lost their lives, dozens have suffered serious injuries (mutilations in most cases), and hundreds have died prematurely due to lung poisoning and heart irregularities. Thousand others were sacked due to their activities through trade unions. All marine life of Elefsina bay is wiped out, due to cyanogens waste streamed from the steel factory into the sea. Needless to say, all Greek governments of the past 50 years did nothing about this as state and corporate capital have a long and faithful relationship.
When a city wishes to host the olympics usually a pole is carried out to obtain public approval for the bid. A negative public vote was why Sweden withdrew the country’s bid for the 2004 games. In Greece though, no such voting took place, and an arbitrary decision was taken by the state to make a bid. Greece is a small and far from wealthy country, and clearly the cost of organising such an expensive event could not be met by the taxpayer. Huge loans were received, and the highly corrupted state mechanism along with the excessive fraud of Mr Angelopoulos, the games’ budget was exceeded fivefold. As a result, the Greek taxpayer will be burdened with the cost of the games for decades to come.
Athens is a city with huge pollution problems. The shortage of green areas and the excessive use of cars due to the lack of adequate public transport have created a grey and foggy hell for the Athenians. What the olympic games will bring with them is an easy guess. Traffic chaos, pollution, and huge debt, just what the city most needed! Green areas around the city and across the country have been destroyed to make way for new highways, rail tracks and bridges. The sites were the olympic marina and the olympic village were constructed used to be two oasis of green and wildlife.
New laws, targeting ‘the safety of the games’ were introduced by the government, overpowering the police, and allowing CIA and state agents to spy freely on Greek citizens and tourists. The whole of the country will be transformed into a state of terror with thousands of newly-installed security cameras, and with all public pickets and marches being outlawed for the duration of the games. Two NATO aircraft carriers are to patrol Greek national waters, along with a whole army of antiterrorist squads, FBI and CIA agents. The right wing government currently in power has warned for zero tolerance towards anyone who will try undermining the clean public image they want for the games. The Greek police have undertaken a ‘clearance’ operation throughout the country in order to move all social misfits away from the eyes of visiting VIPs and tourists during the Olympic Games. Drug addicts, homeless people, immigrants, and free-camping gypsies, were all victims of unjustified arrests. As a result, innocent people were packed in the already overcrowded Greek jails. The government went on to build a new ‘olympic’ jail to cope with the growing number of prisoners.
The construction of new sporting arenas and other olympic facilities was assigned arbitrarily and through shadowy procedures to construction companies favoured by certain ministers and Mr Angelopoulos. Procedures that overruled laws that obliges the government to go through public bidding when it comes to assigning the construction of public buildings. The workers employed are mostly illegal immigrants, forced to work overtimes on minimum wage. Accidents, often mortal, are very common in the olympic construction yards, but the public is deliberately kept uninformed by the corporate media. As workers are not registered in the official employment records, or organised in trade unions, news of their deaths never leave the construction sites. Up to now more than 200 workers have lost their lives and thousands were seriously injured. Needless to say, no compensation was awarded to their families as ‘illegal’ lives don’t count, do they!!!
Oppose the olympics wherever you meet them
This time of season the olympic flame of nationalism and corporate profit is making its commercialised trip around the world, advertising the games to future TV viewers and visitors. Free-thinking activists should organise themselves when the flame comes visiting your city. Show the corporate giants and the warmongers what you think of their olympic business.
NO ATTENDANCE OR TV VIEWING OF THE GAMES
NO MORE WORKERS’ BLOOD FOR OLYMPIC GLORY
NO TOLERANCE OF ECOLOGICAL DISASTERS
NO VIOLATION OF HUMAN AND DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS IN THE NAME OF THE GAMES
For more articles on Athens 2004 opposition check http://www.anatolikos.com/olimpiada/ (in Greek only)