Since the 2010 Olympic bid in Vancouver began in 1998, organizing against the games has been strong. Activists are resisting for a variety of reasons, such as the long history of colonialism/racism associated with the Olympics, or the fact that the 2010 Games are set to take place on stolen land (unceded Indigenous territories). The Games will virtually destroy this land by cutting down tens of thousands of trees and blasting mountaintops in order to build Olympic facilities and infrastructure. As a result, Vancouver has already lost over 850 units of low-income housing and homelessness has increased exponentially, from 1,000 to 2,500 since 2003, and is estimated to rise to 6,000 by 2010.
With the Olympics come a Host of Negative–and Often Overlooked–Consequences
It is common for host cities to criminalize the poor – in Vancouver, as part of Project Civil City, new laws have passed to make begging for money and sleeping outdoors criminal acts, new garbage cans make it difficult to dig through, and new outside benches make it impossible to lie down. In 2010, Vancouver will become a virtual police state, with about 12,500 police, military and security personnel to be deployed.
The Games will also increase public debt in the area – although officials claim the cost of the 2010 Olympic Games will be $2 million, this figure does not include the Sea-to-Sky Highway expansion, the Canada Line Skytrain to the airport, the Vancouver Convention Center, or the lower mainland Gateway Project, which were all necessary to win the Olympic bid. In reality, the 2010 Olympics will cost Vancouver about $6 million, paid for through public debt (money that could have been used on social services, housing, health care and other programs to build community.)
The Olympics also have a negative impact on women in Vancouver – the event will draw thousands of spectators and cause large increases in prostitution and trafficking of women. There are already 68 women in the area who are murdered or missing – most of them were reportedly involved in the sex trade. This violence against women will only increase in 2010.
The Olympic Games are also used as a means of increasing corporate investment. The government in BC has offered incentives such as tax cuts to increase industries such as mining, oil and gas drilling, and ski resorts. This will not only cause further destruction to the local environment, but also result in greater corporate power and influence over the area.
Varied Resistance to the 2010 Olympics
Resistance to the 2010 Olympics has taken on a variety of tactics. In April 2006, environmentalists began a blockade of construction work for the Sea-to-Sky Highway – 24 protestors were arrested after blocking construction for one month. In fall 2006, the Anti-Poverty Committee (APC) occupied a number of vacant buildings and hotels to highlight the issue of homelessness in the area. Over 25 Committee members were arrested. On February 12, 2007, Anti-Olympic protestors disrupted the 2010 Countdown Event. When a large countdown clock was unveiled, a masked Native stormed stage and seized the microphone, yelling “Fuck 2010! Fuck your corporate circus!” A member of the APC also got on stage, yelling “Homes Not Games!” Some 80 protesters scuffled with police; altogether seven persons are arrested. The event was on live television. The following month, the Olympic flag at City Hall was stolen. In December 2007, the windows of several Royal Bank of Canada branches in Vancouver were smashed (RBC is one of the main sponsors of the 2010 Olympics).
The No 2010 Network was established in December 2007 to organize anti-Olympic resistance. A Native Anti-2010 Network was established to coordinate indigenous resistance. These organizers are preparing for a convergence during the games, “calling anti-colonial and anti-capitalist forces in Vancouver, Feb. 10-15, 2010, to confront and disrupt the 2010 Olympic Games.”
On the web site www.no2010.com, one can find regular updates from Vancouver, a calendar of various events taking place in resistance during the next year, as well as links and resources for more information about the 2010 Olympic Games.