In London, we saw the destruction of Clays Lane Estate, the largest purpose-built housing cooperative in the UK with 500 tenants. We saw the destruction of Manor Garden Allotments full of potatoes, artichoke, cauliflower, and more.
For Sochi, we saw the destruction of huge areas of the Sochi National Park, the formerly protected and pristine national forest razed to build a new city from scratch.
In Rio, we saw the destruction of Vila Autódromo, a decades-old fishing village on the edge of the Olympic Park that was home to 800 families — 800 of the more than 22,000 families displaced across the city ahead of 2016. We saw the takeover of public space in favelas by military tanks, and we saw protected environmental areas sold off to build a golf course.
For Pyeongchang, we saw the destruction of a sacred 500-year-old mountain forest, Gariwangsan, to make way for ski slopes.
In Tokyo, we saw the destruction of the Kasumigaoka Apartments, a public housing estate where some residents been relocated after their first eviction — ahead of the 1964 Olympics.
For Beijing, we saw the diversion of precious water resources to create fake snow in arid mountains, establishing a winter sports industry that will continue to gobble up the region’s resources into the future.
For Milano-Cortina, we’re seeing an assault on mountains in the Eastern Alps, and the Olympic Games are increasingly turning into an opportunity for new environmental devastation, taking advantage of the guilty silence of UNESCO Dolomites Foundation.
In Los Angeles, we’ve already seen the destruction of Echo Park Lake, the violent banishment of 200 people living in tents and the enclosure and militarization of this formerly public space. We are witnessing the destruction of Inglewood, one of the few remaining black enclaves in LA, as new stadiums drive up tenants’ rents, demolish local businesses, and spew pollution into the environment.
Time and time again, under the banner of hosting the Olympics, we see the destruction of public space, the destruction of green space, the destruction of homes, the destruction of communities.
Comrades from around the world will fly to Paris because our indignation is too much to bear alone in each city. Some of us lost our homes, our livelihoods, our communities, our rights. We gather in Paris because we need to listen to each others’ experience to be better armed for future. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Olympic boosters are organized on a transnational level, so it is incumbent on us to do the same to stop them. When we put in the effort to make a meeting like this possible, we are sending a clear message that we are committed to this fight and stand in solidarity with everyone who is part of our movement. It is a standard strategy of the capitalist class to isolate us in our struggles and convince us to fight alone. We know that the greatest threat to them is when we choose to fight alongside each other. What machine can we build together that will resist the Olympics in a meaningful and powerful way, not just in individual cities but as a whole?
The OCOG of Paris 2024 says it’s aware of the problems of the past Games, but Paris will do it differently and offer a new simplified and cautious model. The Mayor of Paris says the Games will accelerate our transition to more ecologically-friendly systems. Many in France believed in their words and thought Paris 2024 would be « the greenest ever. » This explains, at least partially, why Parisians didn’t follow the path of those in Boston, Hamburg or Budapest who rejected their city’s bid for the Games.
But today, two years before the Paris Games, we know these promises are an untenable illusion.
We saw the destruction of the ADEF de Saint-Ouen workers’ hostel to make way for the Olympic Village. As of writing, the former residents, all immigrant workers, are packed in cramped temporary housing and they don’t know where they’ll go next.
We saw the destruction of l’Aire des Vents, a public park and part of a protected ecological corridor, which has been paved over to construct a « media village » that even the IOC said was unnecessary.
We saw the destruction of the workers’ gardens in Aubervilliers. Like London’s Manor Garden Allotments, the soil will be paved over by concrete, but this time, for an Olympic « training » pool that won’t even be used for competition.
In Taverny and Saint-Leu-la-Forêt, two perfectly functional pools will be replaced by an Olympic-size swimming pool. In the Champs-de-Mars, the soil is already being paved over for another Olympic project (Grand Palais Éphémère). In Élancourt, trees will be cut down for a mountain bike track.
We must admit: Paris 2024 is not exceptional; it’s just like the others. Opportunities for some, devastation for ordinary people. Privatization of the profit, nationalization of the debt. Paris 2024 may differ in scope and scale from recent Games, but the broad forces that the Olympics unleash are the same.
On May 21 and 22, 2022, an international anti-Olympic weekend will take place in the Paris region. Delegations from England, Russia, Brazil, Japan and the United States will be present to share their perspectives and experiences. On Saturday, we will meet somewhere near the heart of Paris 2024’s urban « regeneration » project. On Sunday, we will go to see the Olympic devastations in La Courneuve and Aubervilliers and continue to prepare for the struggle together. This international meeting is open to anyone who wants to learn from past experiences and, more importantly, to resist these forces.
We know some people believe the fight to abolish the Olympics is fruitless. One poll showed 80% of Japanese people were against the « Pandemic Games » last summer and the country saw a record COVID surge right after the Games. If even COVID can’t stop the Games, who can? Others may think even if we stop the Olympics, broader structures of capitalism will continue wreaking devastation. The Olympics are not like oil or banks; their disappearance may not hurt the core of this corrupt world order.
But let’s consider: if we can’t even get rid of such non-essential Games, hated by most people in the last host country, well, how can we dream of getting rid of oil or banks?
The IOC is in trouble. Before 80% of Japan opposed Tokyo 2021, Brazilians took to the streets ahead of Rio 2016 to condemn the « Exclusion Games. » Whenever a candidate city has held a referendum on bidding since 2013, the answer has always ultimately been ‘NO.’ NBC, which pays $1.25 billion to the IOC, had to compensate its advertisers after Tokyo 2021 due to a steep drop in viewership.
This is a winnable battle. We can stop the Olympics project if no city wants to host the Games. Why don’t we accelerate this process if we can? We can still save Sapporo (Japan) and Pyrenees-Barcelona (Spain) from the devastation of the 2030 Olympics, as well as Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur from the one of the 2034 Winter Games.
Come join us in May. We look forward to seeing you! More information will be announced on:
SNS: @saccage2024 (On Twitter: @2024saccage)
Contact: email@example.com (French or English)
PS: This meeting will need a great number of volunteer interpreters between English and French. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like to help!