I love London. Although I left the UK 30 years ago, the energy and cosmopolitan nature of this dynamic city draw me back regularly.
But I won’t be attending the 2012 Olympics for several reasons. Here are just four of them.
The living conditions for the 2012 Olympic workers have been described as “prison-like slums” since they are overcrowded and unhygienic. 75 Olympic cleaners are expected to share one shower. Every 25 staff members must share one toilet, and ten people are living in each room.
Many of the workers traveled from abroad in search of work. It was not until they arrived in London that they were informed there would be no work for the first two weeks, but they were expected to pay a total rent of over £550 a month to sleep in the miserable camps.
Of course, with an overall unemployment rate of 8.1% in the UK now, and a rate of around 20% for 18 – 24-year-olds, these job openings were supposed to go to unemployed Londoners, so what happened?
Cabbies Up In Arms Over Olympic Lanes
Many of London’s 25,000 cab drivers say they hate the Olympic Games Lanes, a network of roads reserved for the exclusive use of Olympic officials and sponsors. With cabbies forced to ply their trade mostly in the minor roads of London, they believe that their takings will be way down, and that people just won’t take taxis. So they are protesting.
Hundreds of taxi drivers brought the streets around parliament and Big Ben to a standstill this week, hooting their horns and moving at a snail’s pace. They are threatening to hold more protests before the Games begin next Friday.
“I’m a bit sick of the Olympics now. The sooner it’s over, the better”, said taxi driver Shane Ludlow, 42, at a cab rank in the heart of the City of London financial district. “It’s pretty disgusting that we can’t use the Olympic lanes. It’s our city.”
Call Up The Army!
But last week, Britain put an extra 3,500 soldiers on standby after the world’s biggest security firm G4S said it might not be able to supply the 10,400 security guards it had promised as part of a $441.93 million deal.
These additional 3,500 troops will take the overall tally at the Games to 17,000, more than the 9,500 currently deployed in Afghanistan. Yes, security is important, but how will the enormous military presence affect the atmosphere at the Games?
A $15 Billion Investment
It’s true that Brits, and Londoners in particular, love to complain, but what exactly is the city getting for its $15 billion investment in the Games?
According to Andrew Scott, who is the deputy dean of the London Business School and comes from the area where the Olympic Park is located, Brits should stop trying to kid themselves that they made a shrewd investment. That’s because the most wildly optimistic estimate suggests that the Olympics will boost Britainís GDP each year for a decade by no more than one-tenth of 1 percent.
I love the Olympics and will be excited to watch them – from a distance. I’ll visit London next year.
Photo Credit: istock