News Release

The Olympics: Some Downsides

HELEN LENSKYJ
Lenskyj is author of Inside the Olympic Industry: Power, Politics, and Activism and the forthcoming The Best Olympics Ever? Social Impacts of Sydney 2000.She is professor of sociology at the University of Toronto. Lenskyj said this afternoon: “How much do the Olympics really cost and who ends up paying? The International Olympic Committee continues to do things in much the same way despite negative effects at each Olympics. Repeated attempts to inject social conscience into how the games are run have fallen on deaf ears. When the inspection team came to Toronto, it was clear that they had no interest in how the Olympics would negatively affect housing for low-income people and the harassment and evictions that result from landlords seeking enormous profits…. While some of the charges against the members of the Salt Lake City bid committee have been dropped, some charges are still on appeal…. The commercialization of the Olympics drives much of the problem. The IOC is clearly in bed with the transnational corporations that give the big money. This leads to a stifling of speech at the games… There is also the factor of political protests being prohibited at or near the venues. This is not consistent with a democratic society.”
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ALEXIS KELNER
Kelner is author of Utah’s Olympics Circus (1989) and was a member of the Winter Games Feasibility Committee in the mid-1980s. He said today: “The Olympics are not as green as they are claimed to be. One of the greatest environmental transgressions is the way they supported land exchange. Landowners profit from dubious programs that the Olympics allow. Also, there are exemptions for the building of many facilities from national environmental policy requirements, so that builders can bypass public involvement and court redress. In addition, environmental reporting is not accurate — organizers take credit for protecting wilderness areas when there was no possibility of damaging them in the first place.”
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MIKE GRAVEL
A former U.S. senator, Gravel is chair of the National Initiative for Democracy, which is working to foster direct democracy in the United States. The group is working to launch an Olympic Democracy project to educate people about democracy internationally, building up to the 2004 Athens Olympics. The organization is holding a symposium in Williamsburg, Virginia beginning Thursday.
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CHERI HONKALA, via James Pfluecke
Honkala is director of the Kensington Welfare Rights Union, which helped organize a “March for Our Lives” at the Olympics in Utah for the rights of poor people.
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SEAN DIENER
Executive director of the Utah Animal Rights Coalition, Diener said today: “Several rodeos are being organized as part of a ‘cultural olympiad,’ where human contestants achieve scores by cruelly dominating animals that have no choice regarding their participation.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167