In an article for October 14th edition of The Tyee, Katie Hyslop describes how four recent Olympic host cities passed laws that criminalize homelessness and links this shameful portion of Olympic history to the Assisting to Shelter Act under consideration by the British Columbia legislature.
Here’s a sampling from past Olympics:
- 1988 Winter Games, Seoul: 48,000 buildings housing 720,000 people were destroyed between 1982 and 1988 for the purpose of building highrise apartments and commercial buildings;
- 1996 Summer Games, Atlanta: City officials in Atlanta used a combination of new and old legislation to criminalize homelessness in the city. From 1995 to 1996, over 9,000 homeless people, predominantly African-American men, were arrested for crimes such as sleeping in a park or on the street;
- 2000 Summer Games, Sydney: The Homebush Bay Operations Act and Regulation passed in 1999 to cover Homebush Bay, the site of the Olympic Village and Park. Police and other officials were given the power to remove people from the area for vague reasons such as causing “annoyance or inconvenience” or using indecent language;
- 2004 Summer Games, Athens: Law 2730/1999 concerning the planning, development and construction of Olympic works gave the government the power to expropriate land for Olympic use. Anyone living on this land was supposed to be given 24-hour notice to vacate, or face eviction. Houses or businesses on expropriated land were given up to 10 days to vacate the area.
The 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver has produced The Assisting To Shelter Act, which would allow “governments to clear the streets of the poor, homeless and addicted just in time for the tourists and cameras to arrive. The act would give Vancouver police the power to force a person to seek shelter when an extreme weather alert is issued. If there is no room at city shelters, people will be put in a jail cell.”
Of course, the BC government says they’re just concerned about the well-being of people who live on the street. You can read more about the proposed BC law here.
The 2010 Olympic games have prompted a series of laws aimed at undermining the civil liberties in the name of corporate profits and convenience, including bylaws that outlaw signage critical of the Olympics.