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Volume 6 No. 214


A study says that as Brazil prepares to host several sporting mega-events, "human rights abuses and authoritarian interventions by the authorities are going on behind the scenes, favoring major urbanization projects and stadium remodeling," according to Fabiola Ortiz of the INTER PRESS SERVICE. The state has forced almost 30,000 families across the country to leave their homes, according to the Comite Popular da Copa e das Olimpiadas (World Cup and Olympics People’s Committee), "made up of around 50 social movements, researchers, NGOs and trade unions." The Committee's report, "Megaeventos e Violacoes dos Direitos Humanos no Rio de Janeiro" ("Mega-events and Human Rights Abuses in Rio de Janeiro"), said that in Brazil alone, which will host the 2016 Olympic Games, 3,000 families have already been displaced from their homes and another 7,800 are facing eviction. The study claims that "the forced displacement of thousands of people and the privatization of public areas constitute the dark side of Brazil's sports projects." One of the study coordinators, sociologist and urban planner Orlando Alves dos Santos, Jr. said, "Our fears are being confirmed. The benefits and social legacy that are so widely trumpeted really hide a dark legacy: an elitist, segregated and unequal society. It is a sad thing to see" (IPS, 5/18).

England's largest local councils spent more than £6M hosting the Olympic Torch for last year's Games, figures published on the one-year anniversary of the start of the relay show, according to the London EVENING STANDARD. On average, authorities paid out just over £40,000 "to host the flame, funding items such as security and street furniture, as well as road-closure notices and evening celebrations." The biggest expenditures were in the London boroughs of Bexley and Waltham Forest, which "both forked out in excess of £279,000, while more than a dozen other authorities recorded six-figure sums to host the Torch." More than 150 councils were "asked to provide details of their expenditure, with Trafford Metropolitan Borough's £1,500 the lowest recorded" (EVENING STANDARD, 5/19).

Newly elected FILA President Nenad Lalovic said that wrestling has "introduced drastic changes designed to keep the ancient sport in the Olympic programme," according to Gennady Fyodorov of REUTERS. More categories for women, eliminating draws and cutting down the number of competitors "are just some of the initiatives being introduced as wrestling battles to salvage its Olympic status" after the IOC exec board "made a surprise recommendation" to drop it from the 2020 Games program. After winning overwhelming majority votes to lead the sport at FILA's extraordinary congress in Moscow, Lalovic said, "Today we made decisions needed for our struggle to remain in the Olympic movement." Wrestlers were told to bring changes to their sport, adapt to a new environment and make it more suitable for a television audience if they wanted to remain in the Olympics. Lalovic: "They (IOC) gave us a yellow card, so we had to change. And we did" (REUTERS, 5/18).