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Ear to the Ground

Let Them Eat Sports

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Posted on Jul 26, 2012
megoizzy (CC BY-SA 2.0)

As public sector jobs, education, health insurance and social welfare programs crumble amid the specter of economic austerity, the British government has spent more than $14 billion on preparations for the 2012 Olympic Games—far more than the $4 billion that was estimated a few years ago.

Prime Minister David Cameron claims the Games could attract more than $20 billion to the British economy over the next four years. But experts are skeptical.

As Ned Resnikoff explains at MSNBC’s Lean Forward blog, there’s more to this spending on a one-time sporting event than just where the money goes. London’s workers and the nonlocals who have been shipped in to run the gears that keep the Games moving are being subjected to miserable working conditions.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

Ned Resnikoff at Lean Forward:

But it’s not just about where the money isn’t going: where it is going is just as bad, if not worse. Earlier this month, the Daily Mail reported the cleaning staff for this year’s Olympics—consisting largely of students from other countries—will be housed in what amounts to a temporary shanty town, with 10 people to a room, 25 people to a toilet, and 75 people to a shower.

It’s not just Olympic employees facing shoddy labor conditions; the games have also distorted preexisting London workplace issues. For example, workers at the National Gallery art museum are preparing to strike on the first day of the Olympics, arguing that management hasn’t provided them with adequate security for the expected influx of tourists. Cab drivers, too, say that preparations for the games will badly hurt their ability to do their jobs.

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