Olympics Special Free Speech

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This is Free Speech. Your chance to have your say about what matters to


As ever, it's been a busy month but only one topic of conversation, so


good evening and welcome to Free Speech. I am Jake Humphrey and


tonight we are live from this magnificent art deco theatre, The


Troxy in east London, good evening, audience. APPLAUSE thank you all


for being here tonight. It promises to be a busy programme. First, take


a quick look at this. The live countdown clock. As you can see,


nine days, 58 minutes, 57 minutes, and 58 seconds, until the big one.


What's the big one? Finally, it's here, London 2012. It's under way


next week. It's eyes of the world on Britain and London. What will


the Olympics mean for young people here? We have been asking new a


special poll of 500 young people and this is what you think. 71% say


the Olympics make them feel proud to be British and on the economic


front, 73% agree the Olympics will benefit the British economy. But


62% of young people in our poll believe that the money would have


been better spent elsewhere. Clearly, you have a lot to say


about this sporting summer, don't keep it to yourself, get online and


Facebook and Twitter and if you do this evening Michelle de Swarte is


waiting to hear from you. Good evening. Give her a round of


applause! APPLAUSE. Thank you for being with us tonight and make sure


you get in touch. This show is about you being part of the


programme. We have met Michelle, time to meet the panel and find out


how you can tell us what you think of them. Remember to send a message


with your hashtag tonight and with us, a live Olympic medallist,


welcome Tasha Danvers who won bronze four years ago in Beijing.


Next, the MP who has been campaigning against putting weapon


systems on residents' roofs, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, Rushanara


Ali. We are also joined by the Skills Minister and Conservative MP


whose job it is to make sure young people in Britain receive work


skills from the 2012 Olympics, welcome John Hayes Hayes. Finally,


the co-founder of Haringey Young People Empowered, aiming to give


local youths a bigger say in their community, Symeon Brown. Thank you


all very much for being here. First, the Olympics have cost us all �12


billion. But the Government says that's OK, because the Games will


put �13 billion back into the economy. But who will benefit? Our


poll of 500 young people found a whopping 86% don't think that


overall the 2012 Olympics will make them better off financially. Let's


hear now from Jaurus and Eugene, they tried to get work at the


Olympic Park. I have been looking for work for over a year. When I


heard the Olympics was coming to town I was really excited. I


thought to myself, I have to, no matter what it takes, be involved


in this. I have been applying for jobs for a long time now. I would


say since 2010. When I I heard the Olympics came here I wanted to be a


part, no matter what, any position would do me. I knew they were


looking for praepbses on -- apprentices on the site and I knew


that was my only opportunity to get in there. I was looking for an


apprenticeship in engineering. Applied for five different jobs.


Runner, security guard, car direction job, labouring, directing


people because I speak different languages. They phoned me and then


they called me and told me that basically I passed an interview and


when can I start? I was like, wow, my whole life has changed now. It


felt like I was one in a million. did not get any position. I didn't


get nothing back whatsoever. That was a big disappointing. I feel


very lucky. I don't take it for granted. A lot of people would love


to be in the position I am. On the first day in site, working on the


Olympics stadium, wow, I can't believe I am one of the few that's


here. Maybe I didn't get a chance with this one but I do believe


there are more opportunities out there to come for me. I definitely


got my hopes up still. Well, there you go, one Olympic Games tworbgs


different store -- two different stories. It's right that as you


went through this process and live locally, you should start tonight.


What's your question? I have lived there for a long time and applied


for all those jobs, what has the Olympics done for me? Good question.


From a Londoner. Let's come to you first, Tasha Danvers, Londoners


have contributed �625 million to the Games or at least they they


will have done. Surely they should get something for that money, like


a job? I know, it's easy to say that but in reality it's just not


going to happen, you know, I don't think the Olympics ever professed


to be able to solve the problems of the world and to solve the problems


of the country that everyone was going to be able to be employed as


a result of the Olympics coming here. It's just unrealistic.


There's only so many jobs available. Even the ones that are available,


many of them are temporary. So, unfortunately, some people are


going to miss out, as you saw. There was a balance there, someone


who did benefit from it and others that just won't. It's just the


natural way that things work out with the Olympics. OK. Rushanara


Ali, I am intrigued to hear what you have to say, you are an MP. I


am sure you know your constituents well. Have your constituents had


the opportunity to apply for jobs and get jobs, has it changed their


lives? First of all, I think we need to recognise that having the


Olympics has regenerated the East End of London in an area that


hasn't had the investment that's needed. Let's not forget that


that's a big achievement for this part of London. And we should be


proud of that and also be proud of the fact that you guys are going to


be the hosts of the poeubgses to the rest -- Olympics to the rest of


the world and that's remarkable. That's going to be something we


will all remember for the rest of our lives. But on the point about


jobs, I think you make an absolutely key point, which is that


when we got the bid one of the hopes and ambitions was to generate


more jobs and the fiasco over G4S has been absolutely scandalous and


you are absolutely right to expect to be able to get a job that was


available and thanks to the failure of G4S and the Government to hold


them to account those jobs haven't been available to people like you.


I think you are slightly right to be angry about a missed opportunity


that should have been available to young people like yourselves who


are looking for jobs in a very difficult time. I have been


campaigning to get people into jobs long before I got elected and many


others have, so this is really disappointing that the Government


and the G4S haven't done enough to get people into jobs. Did you apply


for a G4S job? I did, in fact. happened? Well, I went for the


interview, but I didn't get no reply back whatsoever. What's going


on here? People unemployed in this country, huge amounts of young


unemployed people and this guy can't get a job with a company who


we know haven't got enough staff to do the job at the Olympics? 46,000


people have been involved in the construction that's led up to this


Olympics. About a quarter of those from the host boroughs. So, 12,000


people in those host boroughs have had jobs. But what I really want to


say is we have also built hundreds of apprenticeships, that's long-


term benefit to those people who were involved in that process. I am


in the business of building the biggest apprenticeship programme in


history. I want to give young people in particular the chance to


gain a skill, get a job and keep a job. It's not just about the


temporary effect, important though that is in terms of pride and


purpose, it's about investing in infrastructure and investing in


skills. That's what I think we have tried to do and of course nothing's


perfect. Tasha is right, we are not going to solve the problems of the


world through the Olympics, but I think this is an important


contribution to that business of regeneration that's been spoken


about. Would you have thought a young man living in this area


perhaps could have got a job with a company that needs to fill


vacancies. You work with young people, you are heavily involved in


lives they lead. Where has this gone wrong? I am not entirely


convinced at those responses, because the largest promise of the


Olympics was it would bring investment into the lives of young


people. I say this as a biased Londoner, but I think this is the


greatest city in the world and I am biased because I am from London.


APPLAUSE. But despite the beautiful things about this city, the thing


that makes it ugly is how deep inequality goes and I think this


Olympics is the very expression of that. Now the contradiction between


having austerity and having a lavish Games that cost billions is


there for all to see. We have a multibillion pound Games, yet we


have cuts to school sports. We have seen the fact that we have had


youth services completely slashed while we have seen management


committee of G4S pay themselves lavishly more than most of the


budgets combined. I think for me, I am not convinced on the argument of


regeneration either, because this seems to be a Games paid for by the


many that's benefited the few and the event that we paid for and I


think that what we have seen, even if the argument of regeneration, if


we look at the trends from previous Olympics what we have seen is that


that regeneration has come at the expense of local communities.


Barcelona, the cost of living went up by 139% and according to a UN


report it found that the Olympics is one of the top causes of


displacement of people across the world due to increase of rent,


increase of cost of living and so for me I think that the


regeneration for local young people involves supporting them, not


making it harder for them to get on in that area. APPLAUSE. A great


point, thank you. I am going to come to the audience now. I would


like a very brief reply to one of the points made there, John, about


spending on sport for young people. Spending on young people in sport


has been reduced �162 million to �35 million in recent years. I am a


Londoner, too. I was born and brought newspaper south-east London


on a council estate, other side of the river, I accept, but


nonetheless a Londoner. I know about what he is talking of.


have you cut that spending? only way you are going to build the


skills and strengths young people need to get jobs and keep jobs is


by investing in education, investing in... You have reduced


the investment. That's what why I built the biggest apprenticeship


programme in history and will continue to do so. Can you defend


the reduction in spending on sport? Let's get this clear, what this


Olympics will bring is many more opportunities for people across


Britain to get involved in sport and not just that, it will inspire


people. Your poll, the poll you quoted, 70% of people, more than


70%, think this will will make them proud to be British. I guess the


request that wasn't -- the question wasn't asked, how many people are


going to get involved in sport as a direct result, I bet you it's tens


of thousands, hundreds of thousands. We will find out later. We will


discuss that. Let's stick on the topic here of the economics of the


Olympics. Just going back on the jobs front. I realise we are not


going to solve all unemployment issues with the Olympics. But when


George Osborne gave his speech about getting Britain working again,


why is it that we have made 90% of our Olympic souvenirs in China and


not in Britain? Surely we should be making them here? We need to get


our economy going. It's crazy. APPLAUSE.


Let's hear from you. I would like to say there is a big problem in


the Olympics that a lot of the jobs haven't gone to British people and


a lot of people have been applying for jobs but they've not been given


them. I think four out of ten jobs have gone to foreign workers and I


spent a few weeks back in April or March working for a company which


was hiring for the Olympics and I spent a lot of time talking to


people who were supposed to be in hospitality industry and a lot of


them couldn't understand me. I was asking them passport details, they


did not understand a word I was talking about and it concerns me


when there are people out there who would like jobs at the Olympics and


haven't got them and there's - they've been given to foreign


workers as well, who can't understand English. OK. I don't


think you can say that people shouldn't get a job because their


English isn't up to standard but it's about making it fair for


It's about making sure local people have access to the opportunities.


That's why one of the things I did as soon as I was elected is work


with colleagues to put pressure on LOCOG to look closely at who was


being recruited, not just go for the easy option and bring people in,


when there are local people out of work who could do those jobs. I


think some of these numbers are far from accurate. The Government, when


we were in power, we made a commitment to create 20,000 jobs in


the five host boroughs. Less than half have gone to local people. So


I think it's right for us to put pressure on the Government to say,


OK, we've done what we can, so far, we need to go forward and celebrate


the Olympics, but once the Olympics are over, let's concentrate on the


legacy. There'll be jobs that will be coming as a consequence as part


of the legacy. And John and his party and his Government needs to


really keep the focus. We will work with them to keep the focus on


creating those job that's are going to come next, after the Olympics.


agree with. That I think the legacy is really important. We can take a


lot from that. I'd like to agree with the gentleman at the back. We


have to start making things that people want to buy in Britain. We


have to have a manufacturing economy. I was at a summit today


with major manufacturers. What we argued is we have to change our


economy, not just from one that relies on services, important as


those are, but the one that actually makes things. Yes, I agree


with you Sir, those things should be made in Britain. We need to have


the skills to do that and that is why I'm trying to bring about.


Let's be proud of Britain through the Olympics. Let's get a legacy,


part of that is the "made in Britain" really means something we


can all value. Let's hear from Thomas, you're doing a thesis on


the regeneration of East London. Can you tell us whether any of


these points have resonated with you? It would be easier if you look


at me. I can't really do much more what you're saying about the rent


gap. I'm working in an historical context. Going from Barcelona '92,


which is what our Olympics models itself on, in fact Ken Livingstone


said he wanted London to become Barcelona on Thames, which I find


quite ironic, because of the whole rent gap. What's your point Thomas?


Sorry. My point is this Games, we can't say what the economic impact


is going to be. We can just say it's going to be developed through


a woolly legacy. It needs to be identified soon after Games.


interested whether the panel to spend �12 billion to make �13


billion is quoted, is that good value? No, I definitely think it


should be more. It should be more. Going into an Olympics, they know


that it's going to overrun. They know that the cost, some Oxford


students did a study on the Olympics and it's -- its


overrunning. They found with 100% consistency the Olympics overruns.


It's about the management of that money. So if they think it's only


going to make �13 billion, I don't know, if you're in a struggling


economy, like for example Greece was, it could really devastate the


economy. Maybe certain cities need to reconsider whether it is worth


it. How do you value national pride? When you won your medal,


when our athletes this time round win their medals, we're all going


to get something out of that, because we are all going to be part


of the celebration. That may sound romantic. It may sound ambitious.


It may sound creative, but you know that feeling, when a British


sportsman achieves something that I couldn't have achieved, you


probably could actually. But I couldn't. The kick that gives us


makes us begin the day with a spring in our step. That's part of


it, surely? It's part of it. I was very proud when I crossed the line.


At the end of the day, when I go home I still got to eat. My son


still has to eat. APPLAUSE


Pride doesn't fill my belly, it doesn't pay my rent. It's all


lovely to say that. That's a good point because I was very proud. I


was very honoured to be a member of Team GB and to cross the line and


be able to stand on the podium, but at the same time, we have to get


with the reality is that that's not what pays the bills at the end of


the day. That also has to be considered more than anything else,


I think. Let's find out what people are saying at home. We have a big


response here. Adam maybe this is for you, a question for you. He


says, why should the taxpayer, pay for it. He lives in Northumberland


and says it has no effect on him. LAUGHTER


I live in Lincolnshire. I'm a fairway from East London. But I


think it's a national event and a national event, with all kinds of


events that will be held around the country, as you know. So it's not


just in London. A national event is national. Are your constituents


excited, empowered and engaged by the Games? Yes, I gauge that by


this. How many constituents will be following the Olympics? I suspect a


high proportion indeed. We've got another comment here and this seems


to be the overwhelming response, "The Games will only benefit the


large sponsors and those already rich politicians." Then quite a


nice one from Pearl, "I'm extremely excited for the Olympics because


it's going to go down in sporting history and not just in British


history." That is mirroring what you're saying. Now there is only


one way for our panel to find out what you guys at home think about


the comments that they just made, that is to fire up the power bar.


Let's do it. Yeah, it seems like you're doing quite well there.


You're obviously echoing what a lot of people at home are thinking.


Your comments about benefiting young people with the Olympics is


important. I want to get quickly, we heard there on the internet from


someone saying we should be proud of the Olympics, this is something


to celebrate. I'd love a couple of comments from people who are


excited about the Olympics and they don't care about the economic


benefit, it's just about having the Games? Just talking about the


workers and the Olympics... LAUGHTER


After the Olympics I don't think it's going to benefit the economy.


After the Olympics over 25,000 people are going to get fired. What


effect is this going to have on our economy, what will happen to them?


You clearly didn't want to talk about the excitement of the Olympic


Games. I think we should leave that point. Thank you very much and


thank you for your comments on that and all of you online who shared


your thoughts with us. Now the next topic. This is Starstreak High


Velocity Missile, rapier surface- to-air weapons. They've put them on


tower blocks in East London. One of them is just five minutes from here.


Vital for Olympic security says the Ministry of Defence. No-one's asked


us about it, say those in the flats below. Innocenced people from one


block went to court to have their weapons removed. They lost. A local


resident loaded this video. I live in the borough where the Olympics


are going to be and where the tower blocks are with the missiles on top.


I think it's great there's something in place to make us feel


safe and keep us safe from potential terrorist attacks. But


having it on top of flats where people live, it's out of order to


me. The trauma of knowing that there's missiles on top of your


house is just beyond belief. If they do go off, it's going to be a


major problem, we all know the risk. It's going to be really loud. Now


you're a potential target for terrorists. Even if they don't,


it's not fair on the residents to know it could happen at any point.


It's ridiculous, especially if there's children in the house. I


wouldn't want my children, little sister or brother to be in a house


where potential missile will go off on your roof. It's out of order.


APPLAUSE She says it's out of order. Plenty


of passion there and more here. Now a question, Natalie, what do you


want to know? Are the missiles necessary to help protect London


during the Olympics? OK, are they necessary? They're on the tops of


buildings in your constituency. I know your residents, some of them,


aren't happy, but isn't security paramount? Yes, it is, of course.


What my constituents took issue with was that they hadn't been


properly engaged when this decision was imposed on them. And there was


no sense of what the alternatives were, whether they'd considered any


alternatives before deciding to put these missiles on their roof tops.


That was not satisfactory. They felt that the answers, the


questions they had asked the MoD were not being properly answered.


One constituent, who lives in that block is here and has been a great


campaigner on this issue. People support the need for proper


security, but they also are quite right to be concerned about having


these missiles on their roof tops. That was where the objections lay.


It feels not what they've done but how they've gone about it. Security


is critical in these Games. We walk into the House of Commons every day


past heavily armed policemen. I have to tell you, when you walk


past them with a machine gun, every day of your life, it is pretty


disturbing. It's disarming. We know that's essential for our security.


These things are never easy. Security has to be the number one


priority. Everyone has to be safe. That does involve taking some


measures that are appropriate to the risk. It's a measurement of


risk. It's a professional judgment. I'm not going to get involved in


the constituency issue because that's your business. But I think


security is paramount. I think this issue could have been handled very


differently and I think the Government was very poor in making


sure that residents had the right information, because for quite a


long time people didn't have a clue what was going on. That was not


helpful. That was not satisfactory. Michelle? Aside from the residents


not knowing, James says, "Well of course, it's for the need of


national protection in case of an attack."


So as far as James is concerned, he thinks we need it to keep our


country safe. Maybe he's not living with the reality of this. Adrian


Weale is with us this evening. You are living -- Brian Whelan is with


this reality. -- living with this reality. I was, but I moved out.


John says he goes past police every day. You chose to work in the House


of Commons. People living in Bow didn't ask for missiles. They


didn't ask for police at their door. They were given no say in it.


not a necessary show of strength though? That seems to be all it is


though. If that deters terrorism? How do you deter terrorism by


blowing up a plane over Tower Hamlets and showering debris over


everyone there? What they're saying is people who live in Tower Hamlets


are less important than the people in the Olympic Stadium. Brian says


what kind of message does it send. Do you think there's a message that


shows the disconnect between communities and the Government?


think that the fact that there was no real consultation is another


case of the Olympics doing something to Londoners rather than


with Londoners. It's important that disconnect is mended. For me, I'm


delightly concerned. One of the worst things that happened in this


city is 7/7. What could missiles do to prevent that happen sning that


was people on the transport system. So that being there as a deterrent


worries me. Seeing the extent to which we've seen our streets


militarised yet the greatest security has come from a private


company being commissioned to police us, rather than anything


else, really highlights the spirit of the Games. We have to trust the


Government in this situation, don't we? We have to trust they have the


information to know what the right thing to do is? I think if they


knew the right thing to do, they probably would have consulted the


people that lived there. Of course, as everyone said, it is important


because we've seen 7/7. We've seen 9/11 and more relevant, we've seen


Munich. So we know that people will try to use the Olympics as a


grounds for whatever their political issues are. But I think


it is very poor of the Government to have gone ahead and just made


this decision without even a discussion. Even if you're going to


go ahead and do it any way, at least, have a conversation with the


residents and say to them, this is what this is. These are the


benefits, these are the risks. This is what you're going to be living


with, so they could at least feel somewhat involved. To just have


this thing planted on your building and have no say, you feel, I can


imagine that would be, you would feel helpless. Can you give us a


reply on this on behalf of the Government? Were the constituents


asked? The estimate of risk is something that's done by security


forces. You're right, we live in a dangerous world and there are a lot


of bad people about. I'd love it if we didn't have that high profile,


very obvious show of security strength. I mentioned my working


environment, which has changed dramatically... Shouldn't they


still have asked the people with them on their roofs? Actually the


issue is whenever you have a massive national event of this kind


it becomes, unfortunately a magnet for the good people there, but also


a potential magnet for those who are not so good. It wouldn't matter


whether it was the Olympics or any massive event of this kind, biggest


low jestic event since the Second World War in Britain, is bound to


bring issues with it. Let's get the thoughts of people in the audience.


It's unbelieve that people think they would have a say on where the


missiles are site. They're sited where they are to defend London. If


you asked people living in them, they would say no. Would you have


one on your roof? Yeah, I don't mind. I'd feel safer with armed


police there. Some of the fears are it makes those buildings a target


The whole of London will be a target during the Games. We forget


there were planes used in 9/11 against the Twin Towers and it's


conceivable it could happen again. The back row? I'm sorry, I have to


call you on what is an incredibly patronising response and especially


to Tower Hamlets. People are usually reasonable. Has an


explanation been made as to why it's necessary. If people are told


that it has to be there, they would understand that. I live in Tower


Hamlets and the first time I heard of this was when I read it on the


BBC website. I thought it was a joke. I thought I had to look again.


People are generally quite I think people should be


communicated with. I think people should be involved. This is a


London-wide event, it's a people's Olympics, that's the way I see it.


I think the gentleman is right, actually in the end it's about


tough choice. If security is the issue, which with we know it is, we


are going to have to take tough measures to deal with that. That's


not a perfect world, but we don't live in a perfect world. Frankly,


whoever had been in Government, that would have been the case.


think it's missing the point a little bit. It's not just about the


asking of the residents do you want these on here, it's about the


respect of the people in your city, giving them the respect to at least


have the conversation. OK, let's see what people are saying online,


Michelle. Helen says they wouldn't make me


feel safe. And west Coast says be grateful you are being kept safe. A


lot of conflicting - my favourite, Yatsu is saying the missiles are


out of order! Not sure you can blame the missiles, they're the one


thing you can't blame. The Power Bar looks interesting. It's funny,


I get asked a lot is it real? Yes, it is. It's not being pushed along


by treadmills. You can see now, Tasha and Symeon are neck and neck.


John t seems not only the gentleman at the back is feeling patronised


by your comments... The price of being in Government. Thank you very


much for your thoughts on that and once again, sorry we can't come to


you all in the audience but thank you for getting involved. Our next


topic. Does an athletic body make you a beautiful person? Tasha,


please don't take this the wrong way but Olympians kind of like


getting their kit off. Look at this lot led by a certain Tom Daley.


# I am sexy and I know it APPLAUSE.


There you go. Our athletes showing off their bodies beautiful there, I


have to say if my body was like that I probably would upload a


video to YouTube. Our poll found 74% of young people have not been


inspired by the Olympics to take part in more sports and this is


interesting, a recent research has shown women are put off sport


because they fear becoming too muscular. Let's start the debate


with Amelia. How can the Olympics inspire a


generation who are so obsessed with body image? Let's speak to someone


this evening who was inspired to get involved in being an athlete


and was wonderful as well, often represented Team GB, Jeannette


Kwakye, you won't be competing in a couple of weeks because of injury,


how do you feel women are put off because they look too muscular?


have been vocal about this in the past and it's down to your event,


the sport and like myself and Tasha and you are committed to what you


you want to do you don't care what you look like. You have an end goal


and go for it. I work a lot in schools with a lot of young you


women who are put off by the fact they might have a bicep or six-pack


that's too much and I try to convince them that it's a healthy


body and that's the most important thing. There is far too many girls


completely caught up looking like Kim Kardashian and there should be


more sportswomen put forward with wonderful bodies, healthy bodies


and act as great role model. When I was younger I was like, I don't


want to do the pulldowns, because I don't want back muscles and you


know, as I matured and realised what it was I wanted, I realised


there's certain sacrifices I had to make in order to get to the level


that I got to. That was getting a few muscles. I don't know, I think


if you look at someone like Jessica Ennis and other athletes, what is


wrong with that amount of muscle? It looks good to me. I wonder where


the idea is this is such a bad thing, where is that coming from?


Is it coming from media? Frankly, like Jeannette said, it's a healthy


body, a good body, a fun body. us into the mind of the 14-year-old,


did you think, you realised boys exist for the first time, do you


really want biceps? You are right, my sister is 15, I see it


straightaway and she moans about her legs and backside and I am like,


what you are doing is just what every normal girl wants. They're


going through the stages. If you are a sportswoman you have to look


a certain way to be good at what you do. I think it's just something


that we have to sacrifice. It is not a bad thing and Tasha is right,


what they do, the media, is constantly put across a negative


image that looking muscular is not good or looking fit even is not


good. I have heard journalists go at Kelly Rowland for having massive


biceps, I am like I must be Hulk Hogan! It's a negative response.


saw something in the paper about people saying Jessica Ennis was fat.


There was a quote the other day that someone's legs was big and she


took it as a compliment because she was fit for the Games. You were


sporty and decided it wasn't for you. I was 14, I did athletics for


four or five years and it got to the stage I was never going to be


at your level, I thought, you know what, no. Looking back on it now


the comments thaeu got from people, you are muscular, it was a bit


offputting. I still get it now and I am like what what! It shouldn't


be offputting. I think the media are the biggest culprit in making


women, especially women of colour, and talking about them in negative


ways, Serena Williams, she has too much testosterone, looks like an


NFL line backer, she is a champion and it's the way the media portrays


her and it's wrong. The media are the main culprits. More needs to be


done to empower women into sport and not - not make a muscular body


a negative thing. OK. Let's hear from the many arms in the air. A


great point from you. Yeah, it's just about determination,


motivation and passion for your own sport. You shouldn't be put off by


anything different. That's a good point. Is it an excuse that some


people realise the amount of effort you have to put into getting to the


Games and might say I am not interested? There is an element of


laziness milling around in there somewhere. If you want to be sporty


and want to be involved in sport, you will just get on with it. You


are not going to worry about, - we are professional athletes and this


is the criteria for our job to lift weights, to get strong, look a


certain way. I have had people come up to me and say, like you said, oh,


mate, how do you get them biceps, you are bigger than me, mate! On


the other hand, I get women coming up to me and saying oh, God, I wish


I had a body like yours. You get a mixed response. I was doing it to


be successful. You got the medal. got the medal. Wonderful, let's


hear from Darius. I am interested to hear what you have to say on


this, because you are one of our greatest young table tennis stars,


but for you it's more about looking good, you claim sport saved your


life almost. Basically from a young age, I lived in Battersea, over the


years I kept on doing it, a lot of my my friends dropped out and today


one of my friends called me, and said I am out tomorrow, -- sport


has changed my life, I am part of Team GB this summer. What do you


say to young people who say those young girls that don't want a


sporty body, what is your message? If you want to get somewhere,


doesn't matter what it is, you have to do it. If you want to be the


best at something, I mean, I love living in London but I now live in


Sheffield and I train in Austria. If you want to get anywhere in life,


you have to put away what everybody says and do what's best for you and


what you believe in. Good luck this summer. Well done. The lady next to


you. I am an Olympic wrestler myself for Team GB and it's all


about sport it involves skill and our bodies are are made to do


certain things. Some are born faster, stronger and you should use


them skills to pursue your dream. Women should forget about do I look


muscular, especially in wrestling, that's part of the sport. If you


can't, then there's no point in pursuing your dream. It's about


ignoring what people say and do what you want. Who do you want to


please? It's your life, go for what you want. Enjoy your Olympic


experience as well. Michelle, online. I don't think girls with


sports bodies are healthy, I am not sure if that makes sense. Girls


with curves who aren't stick thin are more beautiful.


And also, I like this one, no way, I would o love to have an athletic


figure like these women. Who doesn't want a six-pack? Indeed. We


would love to hear from you on all kinds of issues, not just whether


you want a six-pack. You can get in touch with us and Michelle. You can


also find us on Facebook. We are also at BBC Freespeech. Keep


getting in touch on all all kinds of topics. Next, commercial


sponsorship. For the the opening ceremony there will be a guard of


honour of 2000 school children from 250 schools. But, it's emerged


today that the Olympic organisers, LOCOG, have issued guidance that


the children should wear these Adidas trainers or these unbranded


footwear. This kicked off a row, but tonight in answer to an inquiry


by Free Speech LOCOG has confirmed if children wear these, Nike or


reebok they won't be turned away. Other big sponsor include McDonalds,


and being an official sponsor gives them rights over branding. Let's


discuss this on Free Speech. We have a question. Have the Olympics


become more about consumerism rather than sport?


Well, some people say commercialisation goes against the


fundamental principles of the Games, as an athlete, how do you respond?


I don't see a problem with it, frankly. As we know, first of all


the Olympics is an amateur event, so we cross the line, we win a


medal, we get nothing unless we have some contract worked out. I


don't see a problem with it. Other sports, you look at racing, race


car driving, they're up to their eyeballs in all kinds of branding.


I don't see a problem with the Olympics getting with the times and


being commercialised. Somebody has to pay, don't they? The sponsor


have contributed �750 million to the pot. If it didn't come from


where. Somebody has to pay and they did, we paid. The majority of the


money for the Olympics came - it was public money. I think I have


seen sports do amazing things in the lives of many different people


and to see it become a corporate Games is worrying. Considering what


we saw last year and people talking about that being a summer in which


consumerism exploded - this year some - - having a force that's


going to walk around. These have really I think these are really


sold our soul. We cannot have McDonalds sponsoring a Games


supposed to be about fitness, it's a contradiction. Can we appreciate


we may have paid a lot for the Games but we would have paid more


if it wasn't for the sponsors? amount of money came from public


money, that is clear. They didn't even pay 50%, even 20%. We paid for


the bulk of it. This should be a public Games for the benefit of the


public. I think that has not been the case. It's been a corporate


hospitality event, hosted in London, paid for by the many for the future


and that is wrong. John, you are I'm just still basking in the


relief thaw didn't ask a middle aged politician about the shape of


women's bodies. I'm grateful you didn't. But on sponsorship, you


know sponsorship in sport has been around for a long time, not just in


the Olympics. There is a balance. I do think there's a balance. But


actually, if sports weren't sponsored there wouldn't be the


investment. It covers a range of sport. All the sports we're


interested in I guess virtually have some form of sponsorship. Yes,


keep it balanced. And make sure as many businesses benefit from the,


and the economy benefits, coming back to the point, the masses of


people coming to spend money. balanced? I thri there are inherent


contradictions as Symeon was saying around health, if you're promoting


health and fitness don't let McDonald's hold the Olympics to


ransom. It's important to have flexibility around this. Similarly


with what kids wear, it's ridiculous they thought it was OK


to send this message to children. Children in my constituency, many


of them wouldn't necessarily be able to afford to buy a different


pair of trainers. These things actually need to be looked at for


the future so we have a proper balance and equally, we need to


think about sustainability. If we want to ensure that people respect


human rights for instance, do you chemicals is one of the -- dow


chemicals is one of the sponsors, they have connections with the Bo p


al disaster. We campaigned to ensure that the Olympic Stadium was


wrapped in them. I'm glad you came to me. Nick says "Just because they


put a money in the pot, doesn't mean they own the Games." Darius?


Without the sponsors the Games wouldn't work. I'm sponsored by


Coca-Cola. They've actually helped me get to the Games. They make good


drinks as well, McDonald's make salads, you know Powerade, that


sportsmen can use. They may have water. It's a big brand. Stuff like


McDonald's, who doesn't sometimes like a McDonald's. They make salads.


OK. Defending your sponsors very good. Stratford station where I


live is now covered in advertising. Can you not walk through. It it's a


public space. Does that offend you? Greatly. Why? Because I pay so much


towards the public transport system and I am forced -- I am force fed


these images of McDonald's. As a constituent I will not be getting a


free ticket to the lich. It won't benefit me in that way. Why should


they wrap these buildings in sponsorship. You're nodding your


head. Yeah I would agree. Fair enough if athletes need the


sponsorship from the larger organisations, but you're saying


it's for the people of East London, there are lots of independent


businesses here, why can't they sell their produce, their food and


merchandise. There should be a place for everyone. Let's complete


the row. I'm quite disappointed by John's comments so far about the


Olympics as a whole. All I hear you say, yes you should be inspired by


the Olympics, but you have to be inspired by people putting up with


missiles, putting up with public inconvenience and now being


commercialised. Look, this is a great event for Britain. Of course


it brings with it all kinds of challenges. The first time we've


had the Olympic Games since 1948. Yes, of course, legacy is really


important. I'm working to make that happen in my part of the Government.


I think we should be proud of. It I think we should celebrate. It I do


think that thousands, millions of Britons are going to get a real


thrill out of this. If that's too optimistic, well then I'm too


optimistic. I bet that a large number of people at the end of the


Games will say, what a fantastic celebration of sporting excellence,


of our country, of athleticism, of all the things that Sasha


represents for example. A young lady shouted out "In six months


we'll have forgotten about it." Really? Yeah, no disrespect to Tash


ya. That's her medal. She will remember that. But in the country,


we'll forget about it. You don't remember Linford Kristy getting a


gold? I don't care that much. I care about keeping hospitals open,


having provisions for young people. Things like that. OK. Online?


nice round up of this. "Commercialisation is required. The


money makes for better Games, better venues, better competition,


sports gets better." OK. The power bar? Yes, John you're doing good


babe. Tasha is yeah, you're owning Well done. Just as you did a few


years ago in the Olympics. Next up, who's welcome at the Olympics and


who isn't? What about Syria where the defence machine was killed


today? The Assad regime denies massacres of civilians, including


women and children but the IOC is not inviting the head of Syria


national Olympic committee to London. Is that enough? Is it right


to mix sport with politics? David has a question. Should Syria be


allowed to participate in the Olympics? Nice and simple. I think


this is obviously a matter for the IOC. But we have to make a


distinction between sportsmen and women, who may be victims


themselves of repressive regimes versus what the repressive regime


does. This is a tricky balance. But I actually think it is, you know


the Olympics provides a focus for people to campaign against human


rights violations. So if you take the anti-apartheid movement, the


sporting events couldn't be disassociated from what was


happening. So where that is the case, of course, we should reserve


the right to stop people from coming to our Olympics if they are


involved. Would you like to see Syrian athletes banned from the


Games? It's not my decision but we need to look closely at human


rights violations of any country and make sure we take a stand, as


members of the public and politicians. But this is something


that the IOC should look at for the future, because increasingly people


rightly ask why countries who take part or sportsmen and women who


take part should do so. This is a live debate that we should


encourage. Let's have that debate. I'm Syrian as well as British. I'm


against athletes, Syrian athletes playing in the Olympics this year,


because I don't think it's good for them as well not being good for the


country itself. Yes, they may not be affiliated to the regime and may


not support it, but the fact that they're playing, representing a


country which is governed by a regime that it's killing its people


is wrong. I don't think it's haeplty for them. They're going to


be running with the Assad flag. To go down in history you were playing


under the Assad regime and flag, you were supporting it, by holding


that flag. Where do we draw the line? Today, Iran have been accused


of a terrorist attack by Israel. We've had talk in the past of


countries with human rights violations, there was plenty of


talk about China not being allowed to host the Olympics in 2008.


People thought that wasn't right. If you start, where do you draw the


line? I'm not sure. But I question the Olympics as well. Like Symeon


said, you know, it's paid for by the many and it's only a few


benefit from it. I'm not sure about the whole idea of the Olympics in


that it's so good in helping people and developing both on a national


scale and on an individual scale, because for me, I've never been


inspired to do sports because I've watched the Olympics. I've been


inspired to do sports because of a great PE teacher. It's about


getting involved on the ground, interacting with people and


providing opportunity for people. Great point. Thank you very much.


Let's make brief points and get round the audience. Just kind of


like in terms of what Symeon was saying about London, the Olympics


being for the few, I was listening to something on radio about how


someone was refused not only a job at the Olympics, but refused


volunteering because they had tattoos and piercings. We are


talking at the moment about despotic regimes. We have to keep


on topic. Fire away. I don't think you should blame the people of the


country. It's not them who are making the decisions and why should


they suffer. If they've been training and working to take part


in the Olympics, why shouldn't they be able?


APPLAUSE Would it not be a kind of a victory


for the Assad regime if their athletes weren't allowed to London


to the Olympics. Wouldn't that be the regime wing and more repression


and taking away -- winning and more repression and taking away from


people. How would you feel about having to perform in front of


athletes that you didn't feel should be at the Games? It's my


personal belief that the athletes are representing the people of the


country, not the Government itself. Just because they're running under


the flag, doesn't mean they are supporting the regime. The sport


that they're partaking in brings hope to themselves and their people.


They shouldn't be excluded in my opinion. Thank you very much. A


final comment from you. It's not the athletes' fault. The regime is


the problem. And Also, if we go back to the


power bar. It's rather even. think we have a clear winner, I'm


feeling Tasha's taken gold here. You get gold tonight Tasha. Thank


you all very much for your time this evening. It's all looking


rather even on the power bar. Round of applause for our panel.


APPLAUSE Thank you for being here this


evening. We really appreciate it. That is almost it for tonight.


Don't forget the debate is always online. The next show is in


Edinburgh on August 15. We leave you with Deanna Roger with a poem.


She has written this for us. My honest contradictions with no


doubt leave me in the mouths of rafbness fiends, because I don't


know what I truly believe. As a teen I saw five bowls of sweet


poison, squeezed, slipped, piled onto a cluttered table. I saw them


tipping and coursing through my messy city. My lovable, detestable


broken city. My city buried in the pit of minds and factories,


derelict with nothing built to replace them. My southern arrogant,


come see us only city. But years have passed since and despite my


apocalyptic whispered riot it's here. So I search the web to find a


buzz of my own tangled opinion. I read minutes from meetings and


budgets revised and public polls and they all told me that my split


perspective is normal and representative of the population.


So I write poems and prose of pros and cons, even proa con. Even cona


fear I have been ingesting from free news for years. Immigration,


terror, money, drugs, trafficking, slavery, congestion, jobs, change.


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