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Free Speech - Olympics Special

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James Emtage James Emtage | 17:38 UK time, Monday, 16 July 2012


The Olympic Stadium

Free Speech returns to your screens this Wednesday, live at 8pm on BBC Three, with a big old debate on that little sporting thing you might JUST have heard about… 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


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 The communities that the Olympic committee forcibly removed in 2005 have now been replaced by large new developments, which are out of the reach of young people.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


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


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.


You’ve heard what these guys have got to say, now tell us what you think. Leave a comment below, or hop on to our Facebook or Twitter to have your say and get involved in the debate. 

Meanwhile check out the super power street artist that is Shepard Fairey talking about his latest and largest mural on free speech:

View the full blog post to access video content. In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions

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. 


  • Comment number 1.

    This looks like a very interesting programme and I will definately watch it on Wednesday.

  • Comment number 2.

    I think the olympics are a waste of money! Money could have better been used to support local sport clubs that suffer to keep their heads up, supporting community workers, helping young artist on their way.. This is all a prestige project for London while the real problems remain unsolved!

  • Comment number 3.

    The £12Bn spent will help us all, yes the "£13Bn" that has been talked about, it is a likely number that will be put back in to the economy. Remember this, every time the government spends money, there is a knock-on effect which results in more people spending. This knock-on effect depends on the multiplier-effect, this knock-on effect happens from the money going to different places, let's say the first payments go to a construction firm, they then spend 60% of that cash given to buy supplies, the money that went to suppliers they then spend 60% on clothing for the workers or something, this keeps going on and on.

    Even though we might not see any real "financial benefit", what it is doing, is helping to boost growth in to the UK economy, the components of Economy growth is AD=C+I+G+(X-M) [Consumption+investment+government spending+(exports-imports)] If we boost C or consumption by increasing G government spending, which in-turn would increase investment for firms and businesses, the investment depends on company profits, which should go up if consumption rises too.

  • Comment number 4.

    The missiles, simply... It's better to have them, than not to have them.

  • Comment number 5.

    I think the Olympics has the power to pull people together. As a torchbearer myself I must admit that it was an exhilarating experience, a roller-coaster of emotions. Pride Humbleness and excitement. I never thought that a torch could bring so many people together. I was nominated for my voluntary work over the last 10 years with disadvantaged kids, but I was very upset to think that TSB don't value the Torchbearers nominated under them as much as Coco Cola and Samsung value those nominated through them. TSB charged their nominated Torchbearers £199.00 each to keep their torches whilst Coco Cola and Samsung gave their torchbearers their torches. Where would this country be if it wasn't for the volunteers.

  • Comment number 6.

    This was a great programme. The Olympics means more than money and I am so happy the Olympics are in London.

  • Comment number 7.

    If nobody pays the cost the games wouldn't happen. Better to have them than not.


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