On the 27th July, the much-hyped London 2012 Olympics will finally be upon us. As well as providing a means for every financial parasite, corporate tax-dodger and government cutter to distract our attention and make us feel warm and patriotic for around a month, the Olympics mean big buck for big business, at our expense.
Both these firms are responsible for creating untold hardship for hundreds of thousands of disabled people and their families, and yet are using the Paralympics as a way of covering their arses and trying to restore credibility to their names.
But that’s not even the half of it. A number of international corporations are set to profit off the Olympics, despite the fact that the public will have to pay over £11 billion for the event (a huge amount compared to the initial £2.4 billion that the government said it would cost when they first put in the bid).
The huge appeal of the Olympics for these companies has been the right to claim a monopoly over aspects of the games. VISA will be the only usable credit card at any of the events, while Coca Cola will be the only company allowed to sell branded drinks, and McDonalds (!) the only company allowed to sell branded food. Rival companies will have their adverts and signs covered or removed in the areas around the Olympic Stadium, ensuring that those who won the scramble for the stadium are guaranteed to make a killing.
Other companies such as Nike, Adidas and Puma are all trying to increase their profits by being the official advertisers for various teams and notable athletes. This is in spite of the fact that they have been repeatedly found breaking labour laws by paying employees in South East Asia poverty pay.
The iron strength of these monopolies was recently demonstrated when an 81-year old grandma was told that she shouldn’t sell a doll with a knitted jumper with ‘London 2012′ on the front as part of a charity fund-raiser, lest she incur the wrath of the Olympian lawyers.
Since the recession first started, private investors have been increasingly reluctant to pay for the infrastructure (Olympic apartments, road improvements, etc) necessary to host the games, meaning that the government has filled the gap using taxpayers’ money. If you are expecting to see the public purse grow from this investment, you’d do well to look at the Olympics village which became totally state-funded in 2009, before being sold off at a £275 million loss to the Qatari ruling family’s property firm.
The Olympics is being used as another way to siphon public money into private pockets. Just as the cuts have stripped back the welfare state and allowed companies new markets and areas to profit from, the Games have sunk our cash into creating a bubble filled with tourists, sports fans and athletes whom the private sector can profit from through aggressive advertising and monopoly rights.
While the government says that we will benefit from tourism and spending during the games, reports on the impact of previous games on countries’ economies have shown there are no winners except for a few private firms who milk them for all they’re worth. At the end of the day it’s us who foot the bill so that multinationals with a track record of violating human rights, profiting from mass poverty, and fundamentally not giving a fuck about anyone except their shareholders, can make a quick buck in turbulent times. Whoever ends up winning the Olympics, we’re still coming out as the losers.