Sounds of green silence on Sochi Olympics’ “ugly environmental legacy”

I had concluded my previous post on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s declarations regarding the “great partnership” of a “global dynamic duo” i.e. the UN and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), by asking:

When considering the foundations, legacies and values of the UN (and its offspring, particularly the IPCC) and those of the IOC, do we have a case of “Mendacity loves company”? Or simply a case of ‘You keep silent about our scandals and hypocrisy, and we’ll keep silent about yours’? Or perhaps both?!

There’s a Feb. 22 report on (believe it or not!) the CBC site from Nahlah Ayed, which strongly suggests that the answer is both.

Sochi Olympics’ ‘ugly environmental legacy’ on a small village:

Alexander Koropov has lived on the same, tranquil hill for 25 years. So when a train suddenly whistled past, practically through his backyard, he could no longer sleep.

In fact, there has been much to keep him sleepless ever since Russian President Vladimir Putin succeeded in convincing the International Olympic Committee to choose Sochi as the 2014 host city
Koropov, meanwhile, is poorer, sicker, and more frustrated than ever. His land, once home to a thriving garden and surrounded by trees, is also worse for wear: now a hill of stubs, and a desiccated garden of weeds — where there were once apples, hazelnuts and figs.

If he could afford it, he says, he would move, even go abroad to claim asylum, just to try to salvage something of his life.

“I lost everything,” he says in an interview. “I am like a beggar now. I became an ‘Olympic bum.’”
It’s easy to lose count of the ways Ashtyr residents say they have been wronged by the Olympic Games — the ways in which they will remember the Games and the preparations that have possessed their region for nearly a decade.

Limestone quarries sit like open wounds nearby. Trucks used to travel back and forth from them every day, kicking up clouds of dust.

At one point there was illegal dumping. New power lines were set up only to supply a nearby military installation — and the train line of course — bypassing the village’s ancient lines entirely. Water wells were damaged in the construction, forcing residents to rely on water that has to be hauled in three times a week and stored in large plastic tanks.

The IOC president visited the village last year and was promised the water matter would be resolved before the Olympics began. It’s yet to happen.

“Yes it’s taking its time,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said recently in response to a journalist’s question. “We have asked the local authority to come back to us and I believe we have a promise that by the end of March they will have water.”

“[The area] was very beautiful. There were huge trees,” says Koropov.

The river got smaller, and almost no fish in it now. Even the fish you get now smells like diesel fuel.” [emphasis added -hro]

Excuse me?! Where were all the protesters from Greenpeace, WWF, The Nature Conservancy?! Where were Suzuki, Hansen, Neil Young and other big-mouthed (small-minded) celebrities while all this construction – and environmental destruction – was going on?! How could this have escaped their notice?!

Ayed continues:

[Koropov] says most of his land has been seized and declared public property. Demands for compensation have largely gone unheard.

“It’s like we have all been written off the records,” says Koropov.
He says the village wasn’t against the idea of hosting the Olympics. But residents never expected the ugly environmental legacy such an international event could leave behind.

“No one speaks about the dark side of the Olympics,” he says ruefully.

Well, certainly not anyone from the UN’s “transformational” sustainable development bureaucracy and their virtual army of NGO partners. And – not surprisingly – not a peep from “global dynamic duo” senior (financial) partner and oh-so-environmentally concerned, Ban Ki-Moon.

That’s quite the “legacy” the UN and the IOC, this “global dynamic duo” (of partners in hypocrisy) have been building, isn’t it?

4 thoughts on “Sounds of green silence on Sochi Olympics’ “ugly environmental legacy”

  1. It’s Sad but true that most major environmental organizations only consider the issue of global warming to be worthwhile of taking on the Russian government. All other environmental issues are ignored for fear of Putin’s wrath… or so it seems, anyway

  2. Laura Finsten: “The same thing happened in Beijing”

    The same thing happened in London, this is from an activist website,

    “Once London had won the bid, there were immediate battles to be fought over land and home evictions and the taking over of green spaces. For example, 425 tenants from the Clays Lane Housing Co-op, which was situated on the site of what is now the athletes’ village, had to be relocated when the LDA (London Development Agency) was granted a compulsory purchase order. Tenants were dispersed into accommodation across London and were, on average, left £50 a week worse off as well as losing the community and social make-up of the estate.”

    The Telegraph
    The event was very damaging to small traders who were frozen out of the financial jamboree:

    Back in 2005 when London won this year’s Olympics, the games were pitched as a catalyst to help fight poverty in the poorest corner of the capital. Sebastian Coe, the London 2012 chairman who won gold medals for Britain in the 1,500 meters in 1980 and 1984, took Newham children with him to Singapore, where they helped sway the International Olympic Committee.

    Instead, gentrification is likely to be part of the legacy, as destruction of low-income housing and construction of new, high-priced apartments push out the poor, according to Marc Lancaster, an adviser at Shelter. He assists Newham residents with housing in an office 2,000 meters from the stadium. The government neglected a chance to emphasize affordable housing as an Olympic legacy, he says.

  3. When an environmentalist tells me he wants to clean up the world — invariably he carries out his plan by dumping his garbage in my back yard — to clean his back yard.

    We are seeing similar issues in Ontario with Wind Turbine construction sites and environmental practices.

    While your post is hardly news and it’s not at all surprising to hear this — the practices noted should indeed be put under some sunlight.

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