Opponents also await start of Vancouver Games

Tue Jan 12, 2010 11:31am EST
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By Allan Dowd

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Chris Shaw never wanted the Winter Olympics to come to Vancouver, but with the event now just a month away he says he's already pleased with one result that Games organizers probably did not want -- a united opposition.

The Olympics has become a rallying point for a range of social groups planning their own "convergence" in Vancouver in February to protest against the corporate greed and injustice they say the Olympic movement has come to symbolize.

"What has emerged in Vancouver is really quite remarkable in the sense that there really is an anti-Olympic opposition," said Shaw, a member of the Olympic Resistance Network, a coalition of activist groups.

Opponents in Vancouver lost a referendum over the Games in 2003 when the city was still bidding for them, but instead of "sulking in our basements" they kept organizing and linked up with anti-Olympic groups outside of Vancouver, Shaw said.

Local critics say the money spent on the Games would have been better spent resolving social problems such as poverty and homelessness. There are also allegations the event is being held on land that really belongs to Canada's aboriginal people.

Olympic organizers say Vancouver's poor will benefit through local redevelopment and other spin-off economic opportunities, while local aboriginal groups are supporting the event as co-hosts. The Games begin on February 12.


Vancouver's anti-Olympics groups say their complaints go beyond just local issues and they hope the event on Canada's Pacific Coast will become a focal point for a revitalized international anti-globalization movement.   Continued...

<p>A jogger passes along fencing set up for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games outside the curling venue in Vancouver, British Columbia January 6, 2010. REUTERS/Andy Clark</p>