Thursday, November 18, 2010

SOCIETY: Mega Sporting Events, Poor Sporting Spirit!

IIPM BBA MBA Institute: Student Notice Board

Sporting events come heavily on the marginalised population

The upcoming FIFA World cup 2010 in South Africa is seen as a major breakthrough in sporting history. Not only because it’s after a long struggle that an African nation succeeded in grabbing the opportunity of hosting such a mega sporting event, but also as it is expected to refurbish South Africa’s economy. Amidst South Africa’s preparation to make this event a major success, the poorest citizens of the country are being largely neglected. In order to bring up world standard stadiums, the government has ordered massive eviction. In simple words, to make space for stadium and games infrastructure, the South African government has evicted low income housing areas and informal traders. More than 70,000 workers employed on World Cup projects have raised their voices for better wages and conditions. In contrast to 500,000 jobs promises, only 22,000 jobs have been created with occupational health and safety survey giving negative rating to 52 per cent of World Cup construction sites.

The construction of N2 Gateway housing project (construction of rental housing for the 2010 World Cup) led to the removal of over 20,000 residents from the Joe Slovo settlement. The government has also came up with the Elimination & Prevention of Re-Emergence of Slums Act to eliminate slums and put homeless shack dwellers in transit camps during the games. Without any apprehension, this mega sporting event would not only will help the country to upgrade their infrastructure but would also help them tap economic gains. But then, the major pie of the profit will eventually go to big business houses and to FIFA.

This is not for the first time that a mega sporting event would create major hurdles for the underprivileged population of the nation. During 1988 Olympic Games, more than 15 per cent of the population of Seoul, Republic of Korea, was evicted and 48,000 buildings were reduced to ruins to accommodate game’s infrastructure. Similarly in 1996 Olympic, around 1,500 social housing units for the poor were destroyed in Atlanta, in 1992 in Barcelona, 200 families were evicted, in Beijing mass evictions were executed, 6000 were made homeless in Sydney in the run-up to the Olympics and similar eviction is predicted to happen in Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympic Games.

Besides direct impact such as mass eviction and trade bans, indirect displacement due to gentrification and escalating housing costs can also be led to social crisis. After Olympics, prices of houses rose by 28 per cent in Seoul, by 131 per cent in Barcelona, by 500 per cent in Sydney — to name a few incidents. Many governments went to an extent of criminalising the homeless and marginalised pockets of populations. In Seoul, local authorities created a list of places where homeless people were banned and in Atlanta, homelessness was made illegal. Recently, to address such inhuman issue and rush to the rescue of marganised people, the UN has asked the games organiser to properly scrutinise the host cities and introduce housing provisions in hosting agreements. These nations and host countries should learn from their counterparts like Los Angeles, who uplifted the local economy and permanent housing and an Olympic village.

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Source : IIPM Editorial, 2010.

An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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