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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL September 2017 - Paris 2024: The Games are done, nothing goes (fr, it, pt) [machine translation]

Date Sun, 15 Oct 2017 08:21:22 +0300

On September 13, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will decide on the allocation of the next Olympic Games for the years 2024 and 2028. The suspense surrounding this award is rather thin, with Paris remaining the only candidate in the competition since Los Angeles decided to wait four more years. Before the formalization of this " victory ", a small round of the Olympic question. ---- The high mass of Olympic sport should be held in seven years in the French capital and its suburbs. Can the city and the region have the means to hold this great raut ? One would be tempted to answer in the negative. According to its defenders, the Olympic Games will be a particularly interesting financial operation for Paris whose 95 % of sports facilities already built are boasted to us . These enclosures will nevertheless undergo modernization work deemed necessary to be able to organize the event (as the cities hosting the 2016 Euro football have seen).

Final cost: 12 to 15 billion

As for the provisional budget, it is currently 6.2 billion euros. To these figures, it is worth comparing the construction costs usually found for other public facilities: that of a primary school with 10 classes is 30 million, that of a regional university hospital is 400 million. Finally, the annual budget of the City of Paris for the year 2015 was 5.3 billion euros. The amount required for a one-month event is already dizzy but it is also without counting the drifts observed for this type of events. Paris having no reason to escape this rule, the final cost of the Games should rather amount to 12 or 15 billion.

The Olympic Games are often seen as a way to " revitalize " neighborhoods. Behind this word is often hidden the destruction of social habitats or historically neglected. If the example of Beijing destroying its historical hutong had in its time shocked, London and Rio were no exception. The former northeastern quarter of London has become the prey of promoters. When in Rio, there are no more cases of striped areas of the map or of expropriated persons, whether they occupy an informal habitat (favelas) or a cadastral dwelling in due form. For Paris, the promoters are eyeing the side of the Seine-Saint-Denis, the last popular border area of the capital.

Again, examples of deception are abundant and the populations are always the last to be served. For Rio, the path of expropriation has been systematically preferred to the urbanization of shaved areas, thus creating enormous displacements of population.

The mechanism for achieving these results is now well-rooted. In the first stage, construction costs are minimized and the expected benefits are maximized. During the organization, new priority costs are disclosed (security, complexity not stated, supplements not taken into account), which, since the budget is not infinite, must be given priority. Once the event is over, it is clear that the Games have finally been very expensive and everything is stopped, leaving behind the promised and rarely completed social infrastructures.

Emergency laws to control populations

Like the other major international gatherings (G20, world summits, football Euros), the organizing committees impose legislative changes favorable to major sponsors and unfavorable to the populations living on the territory concerned. Among the most striking examples are the possibility of selling alcohol within the infrastructure ; a possibility most of the time prohibited for all national competitions.

The other major part of the emergency laws concerns the prevention of " overflows ". This case is more subtle because organizing committees rely on existing laws. In the case of London, for example, anti-terrorism laws (enhanced in 2001 and 2005 as a result of the attacks) already provided a relatively solid base that the IOC simply extended to and around sports arenas. For Rio, the social movements opposing the Games were severely repressed by several armed groups (police, military, commercial militia) set up for the event and little worried in case of abuses.

Is it still possible today to support the world Olympic and sports movement ? Nothing is less sure. By forcing the regrouping of the 15,000 athletes under the banner of the nations, the Olympic movement already proposes a reading of sport under the sign of borders (nationalism). In so doing, the IOC does nothing to limit a xenophobic reading with a racist tendency.

After the national segregation comes sexual segregation. Since 1992, the IOC has been singling out the mixed events one by one, leaving only tennis where men and women still have a mixed doubles event. And this is only the defense of a tradition rather than a struggle for equality.

This almost systematic separation maintains a vision centered around the male body. In a patriarchal vision of the competition are now systematically organized tests of femininity for all athletes in the categories women who perform close to those of men. This practice, as in the case of the intersex athlete Caster Semenya, is only the most recent example of a long series aimed at demonstrating the superiority of men over the women of whom we are praised, large muscle mass (without explaining its causes) or the " aggressiveness " necessary to overcome oneself.

For all these reasons, the IOC now finds it very difficult to convince the merits of its approach. Henceforth, only a few cities are committed and, with the exception of Parisian blindness, all have finally renounced, sometimes under popular pressure (as in Budapest or Boston). Interesting detail, whenever a referendum on the organization of the Games was submitted to the population, they were refused. Anne Hidalgo swept this possibility out of hand during her interview on July 14, considering the subject " too important " to be decided by referendum.

The same disdain was observed on the question of cost control, though far from trivial. A simple way to address this problem would be to build all the housing, public facilities, transport lines promised by the public authorities to the organizing committee, without worrying about who is the best in the 100 meters or the pentathlon. Unfortunately, this simple and common sense idea has escaped decision-makers.

Nico (AL Paris-Nord-Est)

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