This period witnessed further negative publicity of Olympic sponsors as well as the revelation that senior Olympic representatives sought to capitalise on their positions by illegally selling tickets at heavily inflated rates, again drawing much negative attention surrounding the integrity and ‘fairness’ of the Games. Such occurrences continue to contribute to a long list of grievances from groups either protesting against all or various aspects of the Olympics and/or using the Olympics period to further their cause, albeit un-directly related to the actual event. Some (but not all) recent protests included the following:
- On 18 June the London Mining Network, UK Tar Sands Network and Bhopal Medical Appeal held a demonstration outside the head office of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) in Churchill Place. The groups, behind the Greenwash Gold 2012 campaign, said they held the protest because LOCOG has refused to meet them over their concerns about sponsors of the Games.
- On 20 June anti-Israel protesters were removed from an Israel vs. Wales women’s football match in Wrexham, Wales (the same people had previously demonstrated at an Israel – Scotland match on 16 June). This pro-Palestinian group is campaigning against Israel's hosting next year of the UEFA under-21s tournament and claims that Palestinian athletes and teams from the West Bank and Gaza Strip are not granted visas by Israel. Although this was not an ‘Olympics’ demonstration per se, the group will almost certainly attempt to demonstrate against Israeli athletes (although Israeli embassy officials this week stated that their own security will not allow any disruption whatsoever).
- Fathers 4 Justice launched a fresh campaign of direct action against what they have dubbed the "Fatherless Games". As part of this, two activists scaled the perimeter fence at Heathrow Terminal 1 and spent 15 minutes on the edge of the terminal's north runway, having laid pictures of their children on a piece of purple silk in front of the plane spotters' viewing area. The group has said it shall hold more demonstrations in the run up to The Games and their targeting of transport and other high-profile venues should be noted (see also our report on 19 January, when we first warned of the group’s threat to events, including the rowing at Eton Dorney).
- Also in this period, a group connected to the Occupy movement took over an empty Georgian house owned by the Olympic park sculptor Anish Kapoor for a one-day arts event. The group, calling itself Bread and Circuses, argues that the Olympics are a means of distracting people from pressing economic and social issues. They are likely to host further such events.
As we draw closer to the Games the coming period is set to see the rise of protests and direct action continue, with the following events planned:
- 30 June will see the Stop the Olympic Missiles Campaign’s “No Missiles in Our Community” gathering, set to take place at Wenningston Green, Mile End Park. This is in reaction to the MoD’s confirmation that six sites, including two residential blocks of flats, would be tested as launch pads for missile systems in order to combat air threats. Potential sites include the Lexington Building in Tower Hamlets and the Fred Wigg Tower in Waltham Forest, both in east London; Blackheath Common and Oxleas Wood, both in southeast London; William Girling Reservoir in the Lea Valley Reservoir Chain in Enfield; and Barn Hill at Netherhouse Farm in Epping Forest.
- Meanwhile, severe action is planned for 28 July – the day after The Games officially commence. The umbrella organisation, Counter Olympics Network (CON) has planned the protest to take place between Mile End and Victoria Park in East London in what another anti-Games hub, Our Olympics, hopes to become “the greatest act of non-violent civil disobedience of our time.” The group is demonstrating against numerous Olympic sponsors for a variety of reasons including alleged use of slave labour. One of the most highlighted targets remains Dow Chemical, which currently faces a £1.1 billion compensation lawsuit by the Indian Supreme Court over the 1984 Bhopal gas leak disaster in India (see previous Monitors).
The above list is clearly not exhaustive and any organisations linked to Olympic sponsors should be prepared and wary of protests likely to take place on their premises and the Olympic Park. Although so far these have remained non-violent, some have been highly disruptive, and such activity is likely to intensify.