by Special Correspondent Thea Lim
If your city newspapers are anything like mine, you’ve been witnessing the regular old deluge of Olympics coverage. But the ’08 reporting is special – mixed in with the diving stats is story after story about how China is corrupt, repressive and deceitful.
Take yesterday’s amazing headline from Canadian national newspaper, the National Post: Chinese Introduce New Sport: Deception. Or Tuesday’s story in the Globe and Mail, another Canadian national newspaper: Beijing static: Disagreements over whether to watch the Olympic Games or tune them out are dividing families. A Toronto Star story from a few weeks back details how the Chinese are not only secretive loonies but also warmongers: China Wages War on Olympic Weather.
I can totally agree that China has an awful human rights records; that what is happening in Tibet is horrible; that Beijing (and many other parts of China) are staggeringly polluted.
But here’s the thing: what Olympic host country hasn’t done terrible things that they should be held to account for? Hell, it’s often the chance to host the Olympics that motivates state violence. So why is China the only one getting called out?
Seriously, I’m not just crying wolf. In December ’07, European organisation the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions released the report “Fair Play for Housing Rights: Mega-Events, Olympic Games and Housing Rights.” The report states that
The Olympic Games have displaced more than two million people in the last 20 years, disproportionately affecting the homeless, the poor, and minorities.
An ’07 article in the Guardian discusses the report in more detail, stating that
In every city it examined, the Olympic games – accidentally or deliberately – have become a catalyst for mass evictions and impoverishment…The games have become a licence for land grabs…
Barcelona’s Olympics, in 1992…[were] used to cleanse the city. Roma communities were evicted and dispersed. The council produced a plan to “clean the streets of beggars, prostitutes, street sellers and swindlers” and “annoying passers-by”. Some 400 poor and homeless people were subjected to “control and supervision”.
We hear the same story in the US.