[Hpn] Olympics Teleconference: Sydney, Atlanta & Toronto activists share concerns & tips fw Atlanta & Toronto activists share concerns & tips fw

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Fri, 15 Sep 2000 04:07:33 -0700 (PDT)

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by Enda 2:21pm Wed Sep 13 '00

Olympic activists from the past, present and possibly the future met in
cyberspace today with a live teleconferencing linkup between activists in
the three cities to share experiences in hosting the Games.

The linkup took place at the UTS Community Law and Legal Research Centre in
Annandale Sydney at 8.30 this morning.

Louise Boon- Kuo, the co-ordinator of the UTS Community Law and Legal
Research Centre and Beth Jewell, the convenor of Rentwatchers and a worker
at Redfern Legal Centre spoke about the negative impact of the Sydney Games
on many of their more vulnerable clients.

Beth Jewell said "we're talking to the people in Toronto because that city
has been short-listed for the 2008 Games. We compared stories from Atlanta
and Sydney such as the impact on the homeless, the targeted policing,
misplaced priorities, the amount of money spent and the gains for some and
the losses for others."

Louise Boon-Kuo  said "Toronto is keen to learn from the mistakes and
experiences of Sydney and Atlanta. We're sharing our experiences with them
because I don't think that any city should have to suffer the hosting of
the Games."

Dominic Wykanak, an indigenous activist from the Bondi Greens in Sydney
extended a welcome to the overseas participants and particularly to Chief
Carol McBride from the Algonquin First Nation . Dominic Wykanak commented
on the fact that the Bondi Beach Volleyball Stadium had gone ahead in
breach of a promise made to the indigenous owners by Mr. Michael Knight in

The linkup was broadcast live to a public forum in Toronto to an audience
which included Jan Borowy from the Bread not Circuses campaign, Helen
Lenskj, the author of a recently published book on corruption within the
IOC and Chief Carol McBride from the Algonquin First Nation.

Beth Jewell from Rentwatchers went on to say that the NSW government had
failed in its duty of care in three main areas:

1. Failure to improve tenancy laws to support the precarious position of
low rent tenants.

2. Failure to protect the position of those living in boarding houses.

3. Failure to introduce legislation to prevent the change of use from low
rental to tourist accomodation such as backpacker hostels.

From  Atlanta, Anita Beatty from the Task Force Homeless spoke about a
progressively worsening civil liberties situation since the introduction of
legislation during the 1996 Olympics. Protests had been outlawed,
affordable housing was now in short supply and Olympic venues which had
been built with taxpayer funding had now been turned over to private

Anita gave an example of an area within Georgia State University which had
traditionally been a sleeping area for homeless people. Since the Olympics
people who were attempting to give out free food to homeless people had
been ejected from the area. Homeless people themselves were banned from the
University. Persistent offenders were ordered to leave the State or face a
6 month prison sentence.

Beth Jewell spoke of the targeting of young people, the homeless and
indigenous people for harassment by the police. In the last week alone the
Redfern Legal Centre had processed 12 complaints of serious abuses against
individuals including several examples of people being stripsearched in

Louise Boon-Kuo highlighted concerns about the use of special legislation
to prevent expression of oppositional views. The exercise of these
discretionary powers by the police, in effect, made it an offence to have
any type of assembly without authorisation or even to distribute leaflets
which might be interpreted as being opposed to the Games or their
commercial sponsors.

Louise Boon-Kuo also spoke of her concern for the lack of training and the
inexperience of personnel who had now been given extensive powers to move
on and arrest people with the use of force. Many of these personnel had had
no security vetting for previous offences nor did they display  uniform
numbers for identification purposes.

Regarding the possible location of the 2008 Games the comment was made that
NBC, the major commercial sponsor of the Olympics would plump for Beijing
over Paris and Toronto providing American viewing figures of the Sydney
event (which is in the same time zone as Beijing) were satisfactory.


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