By BILL MARSH
Not everyone thinks the Olympics are fun and games. In mid-February, activist groups in Vancouver, Canada, took to the streets to protest the Winter Olympics. Members of Six Nations, a group of indigenous people in Canada, objected to the use of Native lands for the Olympics.
Protestors marched, held rallies and chased the Olympic torch through the streets to show their opposition. Activists also blocked a major street in downtown Vancouver to slow traffic to and from Olympic events. “They’re creating a false illusion that Canada is good and has positive relations with our people,” said Melissa Elliott of Six Nations in a DemocracyNow interview. Elliott added that Native lands were stolen from her people. “This land was never surrendered,” she said. Much of that land has been used to build structures for the Winter Olympic Games.
People’s rights groups in Vancouver also objected to the negative effects that the Olympic Games have on housing, especially among the poor. In the cities where the Olympics are held, many people are pushed out of homes and communities in order to open space for Olympic development. In 2007, the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions reported that more than two million people worldwide have been forced out of their homes in preparation for the Olympics in the last twenty years. Past Olympic cities include Beijing (China), Torino (Italy) and Athens (Greece).
The Canadian people paid $6 billion in taxes to host the Olympics. Some protesters objected to this cost when corporations sponsoring the Olympics reap the majority of benefits in profits. Corporate sponsors of the Olympics include Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Visa and General Electric.