The Lost Neighborhoods of the Olympics

Feb 05, 2014, 05:00 ET from Millersville University

MILLERSVILLE, Pa., Feb. 5, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "The loss of entire neighborhoods has become a fact for many host Olympic cities," said Dr. Jeffrey Wimer.  Wimer and Dr. Ying Wushanley are both professors of wellness and sport sciences at Millersville University of Pennsylvania and have researched the impact of the Olympics on host cities.

"Eminent domain is a frequently evoked legal strategy in the U.S. that has been used by the government to secure property from property owners in what seems for the public good, but which may later create hardships for families, especially in terms of fair market value," said Wimer. "I have been conceptualizing and studying these connections as it relates to hosting the Olympic Games."

Wimer traveled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to learn how thousands of people have been moved in preparation for the games of the summer 2016 Olympics.  "Large neighborhoods of people have been relocated," said Wimer.  Wushanley, who attended the summer games in Sydney in 2000 and the 2008 summer games in Beijing says the people living near the Olympic venues were also forced to relocate when Beijing held the Olympics.  "Traditional Beijing neighborhoods were just bulldozed over – never to be seen again," said Wushanley.

"Many individuals have a romanticized idea of the Olympics and the global goodwill it will create.  Certainly there is a degree of truth and hope in the enduring value of the games—but the investment necessary to pull together these events often shadows the legacy it creates," Wimer said.

"While China and the U.S. are the primary countries of interest to me, I really look at issues rather than just countries," said Wushanley.  "I'm interested in the environmental impact – not from a health perspective but from a global consciousness – things like ideology, culture, politics and socioeconomics.  Often a country will say they care about the environment but then remove a rain forest to hold the Olympics."

Both scholars will be watching Sochi for signs of environmental damage, given the fact that sustainability issues are very important to Millersville University.

And both men say the Sochi Games will be very secure, "Sochi will be much safer than most other Olympics," said Wushanley. "In Russia the government has more power to arrest people who protest.  In a true democracy, that's much harder.  This will be the largest security force ever employed in the Olympics."

SOURCE Millersville University