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Getting in the way of a Mega-Event

October 30th, 2007 by rsommerseth · 1 Comment

20 percent of all forced evictions in 2004 were related to a mega-event of some sort, according to COHRE (Centre of Housing Rights and Evictions)
The incitement of hosting a mega-event is the pursuit for benefits; beneficial both socially, economically and hopefully beneficial for the local population first of all. But critics claim that a substantial part of the residents, mainly the lower class, experiences the downside more than the benefits.

Kim's powerpoint
Screenshot of Kimberly Schimmel’s powerpoint

How the infrastructural change is being handled to prepare for a mega-event is up to the local governments and it is getting handled in a very different matter from place to place.

One thing is certain though: Every single Olympic Game from 1988 to 2008 have evident forced evictions of some sort. Kimberly Schimmel, Professor of the Sociology of Sport at Kent State University broached the subject at the Mega Event debate, and referred to the disturbing research conducted by COHRE stating that over 2 million people have been displaced, due to the Olympic Games alone, during the last 20 years. At the 1996 Atlanta alone the number reached 30.000 people.Kimberly Schimmel
“What typically happens is that the host nation tends to get on the bandwagon and then it gets very, very hard to get any kind of critical information into the public domain”,
Kimberly Schimmel says. “The information coming from China at the moment is absolutely startling. Hundreds of thousands of people are losing their homes, and I have even heard about people get a knock on their door, and is asked to go pack their suitcase immediately and get out”.

Different nations have different ways of compensating evicted people, but Kimberly Schimmel also see the law about eminent domains conducted by many countries as a slippery slope when it comes to Mega-Events. According to her, the law about eminent domain is being interpreted differently from place to place, and those decisions have to be fought in court and bound to be a very long process.
”And there aren’t that many people that get on the side of a small slum housing area and the people that get evicted. People rally behind it when they hear about it, but it is not always easy to keep your finger on all of that”, she says.

According to Kimberly Schimmel one can not conclude that hosting a mega-event is purely good or bad. She agrees that some people will benefit from the event, but it rarely tends to be the people who are most needy: “We tend to simplify the language, but a city can not be looked at as a unitary entity, so what you find is that the event is very beneficial to some, and extremely burdensome to others” Kimberly Schimmel say and concludes:
“When talking about the biggest of the biggest events, I fundamentally do not find them beneficial as the cost for the people that is most needy outweighs the benefits for the people that already have the things they need. I hope time will prove me wrong though”.

Read more about evictions at mega-events on cohre.org.

Tags: Theme: Mega-events

1 response so far ↓

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