From July 25 to August 12, London hosted the XXX Olympic Games. The event was introduced by local and national authorities as an unmissable opportunity to transform the city. East London was to become a symbol of the city of the future, with affordable homes, open green spaces and sustainable means of transport. The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park was designed and built in a huge junction between the London Boroughs of Hackney, Newham and Tower Hamlets. Massive public investments were promised to provide the communities with social, cultural and sporting facilities. An old, traditional and active industrial area was evicted. Following a controversial compulsory purchase, dozens of businesses were forced to leave and hundreds of neighbours were relocated. Around £10bn were spent.
Five years later, the Olympic legacy is far from what was projected. Social organisations like Games Monitor and Corporate Watch claim that local families have been forgotten and that the Olympics were actually a racket for international sponsors. There is great controversy about the real budget of the whole project. Only a third of the original family businesses oh Hackney Wick have survived the relocation. What was one of the most crowded places on earth a few years ago is currently a vast, grey and lonely area.
We want to know what has happened in between, how authorities value the impact of the Olympics in East London, how the Games changed the life of local businesses and families, and what are the benefits and the costs for the capital of this major event. We talked to politicians, business owners, activists, architects and urban planners to find out how a crucial part of London has changed forever.
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