Friday, February 25, 2005

IOC Snubs NYC 2012 Bid Opponents

Subject: Press Release: IOC Snubs NYC 2012 Bid Opponents
Date: 2/24/2005 5:03:09 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
Sent from the Internet (Details)


Denies request to meet with BID opponents; meets with supporters instead.

For immediate release, February 24, 2005
for more information, contact:
John Fisher: 212-581-9022 email
Phil DePaolo: 347-200-2353 email
Patti Hagan: 718-219-2137 no email
Maria Garcia: 212-242-8155 email

NEW YORK -- The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the New York City Olympic Bid Committee (NYC2012) yesterday snubbed New York City community groups and activists opposed to New York’s Bid for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Instead, the IOC met with groups that generally supported the Bid, but found problems with specific aspects of the plan.

Yesterday, NYC2012 Executive Director Jay Kriegel falsely claimed Bid opponents had been invited to a meeting, but declined.

In response to the IOC’s refusal to meet with opponents, a letter of protest is being sent to the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland objecting to the manner in which the IOC and NYC2012 have failed to consider community concerns. Neither NYC2012 nor the IOC has reached out to opponents in over four years. It is widely believed by NYC residents and politicians that the NYC Bid, along with plans for several contentious venues, are being rammed down the throats of New Yorkers.

John Fisher of the Clinton Special District Coalition stated, “While we are cognizant of the IOC’s busy schedule while they are in New York City, we made the request several weeks ago and it is our neighborhoods and communities that the IOC and NYC2012 hope to bulldoze. Perhaps they should meet with us rather than Meryl Streep.” Other community groups making the meeting request included Prospect Heights Action Coalition and People’s Firehouse in Brooklyn and Chelsea Owners and Tenants in Chelsea.

On February 9th, representatives from the community organizations requested a meeting with the IOC after Evaluation Commission Chair Ms. Nawal El Moutawakel stated in Madrid on February 7th they would be willing to meet with Bid opponents.

A follow-up letter to the IOC dated February 18, stated,

“During the Commission's busy schedule, while you will be treated to lavish -- but entirely orchestrated -- receptions, we would like to express to you the concerns of some real New Yorkers. We are from neighborhoods that are likely to experience real displacement if the NYC 2012 bid occurs as proposed. We represent legitimate, ongoing civic organizations. We are not associated with Cablevision or Madison Square Garden. Unfortunately, the press has erroneously characterized NYC’s contentious bid as a duel between Mayor Bloomberg and the owners of Madison Square Garden. Please do not make the mistake of assuming the problems are so limited. They go much deeper and wider.”

After three letters to IOC Headquarters in Lausanne, the IOC forwarded our request to NYC2012 where it was clarified that we hoped to bring representatives from six organizations to a meeting, but that it could be pared down to four individuals.

The request was not made in conjunction with the groups that did meet. It was not until the Tuesday night phone call that NYC2012 made any mention of other groups that requested their own meetings.

The IOC and NYC2012 refused our delegation a meeting, saying that only one person from only one of the community groups could attend, thereby telling the other community groups to ‘take a hike’ and dismissing their concerns. After the meeting with the pro-Bid groups, it was discovered they were allowed more people and more time.

Unlike the other groups that did meet, our position is against the NYC Bid. It is not unreasonable to expect that the person sitting next to you on the same side of the table should have essentially the same position.

Just as the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority is rigging the open-bidding on the West Side railyards, so too did the IOC and NYC2012 rig this so-called meeting. By claiming to have met with opponents (but in reality having met with groups apparently supporting the bid), the IOC cannot lay claim that they have met with, listened to, and ultimately dismissed, the opposition.

The distinction is not mere semantics. We requested that the IOC meet with us. They did not invite us to a meeting, town-hall style or otherwise, they were setting up anyway, which is what NYC2012’s Jay Kriegel tried to claim on Wednesday.

While the IOC may be inured to community opposition wherever it lands, community groups are raising the issues that perhaps it is the IOC’s failure to come to grips with its own social responsibility to not exacerbate or create new social problems that emboldens such local protests. Whether in New York, London, Beijing (with over 300,000 displaced so far in anticipation of the 2008 summer games), community, civic and other groups are insisting that the IOC not be a stalking horse for bad development or bad policies.

* A wider coalition of forty-two community groups are fighting the proposed Olympic/Jets stadium, but were not part of the meeting request to the IOC.


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