Free Speech - Olympics Special
THE COST OF THE OLYMPICS
To kick things off we’ve asked three young people to answer this question:
Are young people benefiting from the cost of the London Olympics?
Thomas Marshall-Potter (UCL and author of thesis The Regeneration Games: London 2012 and the Making of a New Community)
I see the Olympics as a machine, not one driven by sport, but one driven by the forces of regeneration. Categorised as a ‘mega- event’ the Olympics has the power to affect whole economies and therefore has the power to both benefit and severely disadvantage young lives in London and the host boroughs.
In the case of Newham, for example, the Olympics has breathed new life into an area in desperate need of investment, but in turn, has brought with it higher house prices and significantly less social housing. The communities that the Olympic committee forcibly removed in 2005 have now been replaced by large new developments, which are out of the reach of young people.
The Olympics, to me, just highlights the continuing gentrification of East London, and provides a false hope for the future of the Olympic boroughs. Following the same trajectory as Barcelona’ 92, the London games appears to have a sporting legacy worthy of recognition, but it’s the social legacy it leaves behind, where we will truly see the impact of the investment on the lives of younger generations.
Jita Mitra, Creative Director, Hackney
Having started up my production company based in Hackney this year, I’ve seen a real change in the area. There’s a buzz, a hushed excitement. There's a lot of luck to be made. Being young and running your own business can be hard - you need people to take you seriously. But numerous events and companies eager to promote themselves in the area has meant start-up custom has been good. We’ve been lucky.
At the same time, with a convoluted ticket booking system and a wooly legacy I’m not sure the access is immediate or awareness widespread.
One thing is for sure, there’s going to be a hell of a party. Any excuse. With East London at the heart of the new urban social scene and set to host an international audience, it should be an Olympics to remember for all.
Shereece Marcantonio, Teenager and Sexual Health Campaigner, Newham
Being a teenager from the heart of the Olympic borough, I feel extremely left out!
My only chance of involvement was volunteering but even the process of that was oh-so ridiculous, feeling completely unfriendly towards young people. I was under the impression that part of why we won the bid was for the work we would do in involving our young people, but I can’t see much evidence of that from where I’m sitting.
Travelling will be out of control, as will so many other aspects of everyday life. As for the amount of money being spent on the games when vital local youth services are having their budgets cut, or being closed down all together – it feels like some priorities have got slightly muddled up in recent years.
Thinking about it, how are young people benefitting from the Olympics being in London? I hope we will benefit in the long run, with the new facilities and rejuvenation of the borough but as of now, I'm failing to find my British spirit and look forward to the games.
Meanwhile check out the super power street artist that is Shepard Fairey talking about his latest and largest mural on free speech:
Pretty cool huh? So… make sure you’re plugged in to your sofa and set to BBC Three on Wednesday at 8pm where Jake and Michelle, a panel of guests, a live studio audience and the opinion tracking Power Bar will be ready and waiting for you.
See you then.
Free Speech is on Wednesday at 8pm.