LOCOG loyal to Atos over Paralympics Sponsorship – WHY?

The Atos Healthcare assessment for disability benefits has been labelled a box-ticking exercise, employing the use of LiMA (Logic Integrated Medical Assessment) – a script which the Atos assessors use to determine a person’s level of disability. These assessors are often medical professionals who have undergone training to comply with the objectives of the test.

The aims of this kind of test, using multiple choice questions to provide quantitative information to assess disability, is to try and standardise disability in order to make the murky waters of individual medical conditions a little more transparent, ostensibly for budgetary purposes. Atos currently has a contract with the UK government which they claim to be worth £100m a year.

The government’s planned re-structuring of the benefits system will incorporate similar assessments, for example, replacing the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) with Personal Independence Payments (PIP). The PIP scheme will make claimants subject to regular review and face-to-face assessments, using methods like LiMA. The government says that they hope to save £1bn using such a system, but disability groups say that the system is insufficient, and Atos’ monopoly on benefits assessments is inappropriate. One of the universal criticisms of Atos is that they rarely make eye contact with patients…

Some disability campaign groups have subsequently called for a boycott of the 2012 Paralympic Games due to Atos’s position as a worldwide partner of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The campaigners say the company is running a flawed process to assess disabled people’s rights to benefits and is therefore an inappropriate sponsor of the Paralympic Games. Yet for campaigners, the last straw is the appointment this month of former Atos chief executive – Bernard Bourigeaud – to the board of the International Paralympic Committee.

The LOCOG committee has a poor record when it comes to sourcing ethically sustainable goods and sponsorships. They can now add another instance to the list. Accused of causing ‘fear and loathing’ among disabled claimants, Atos’ system remains hidden to prevent any critical testing of its efficacy, and their extremely lucrative and unassailable contract with the DWP shrugs off other corporate competitors. For anyone disabled, the name Atos is hardly reputable.  However, LOCOG doesn’t really mind where it comes from, so long as the money flows.

 

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Spurs and Leyton Orient to launch review over Olympic Stadium


Tottenham Hotspur and Leyton Orient are applying to the high court for a review of the OPLC’s (Olympic Park Legacy Company) decision to award West Ham United the chance to move into the Olympic stadium after the 2012 Olympic games.  One of the reasons for OPLC’s decison to pick West Ham was that they had said in their bid for the stadium, that they would keep the athletics track, whilst Spurs had argued the only viable option was to rebuild the entire stadium as a dedicated football ground.

Leyton Orient’s chairman said. ‘We will shortly apply to the High Court for judicial review and take action against the Premier League for ignoring their own rules.’

A big concern for Leyton Orient is that because of the size of the stadium, West Ham plans to offer discounted tickets. The worry is that this could significantly effect Orients ability to generate ticket revenue since the clubs current home is the Matchroom Stadium just over 2 miles from Stratford. The club’s fan groups have launched an online petition urging the Government to revoke the decision. Orient have also accused Newham council of granting “unlawful state aid” to West Ham in offering them a £40m to finance their move into the Olympic stadium after the games.

What are they doing lending £40m to a football club? They are not allowed to be involved in commercial deals. This is state subsidy of a commercial operation, which falls foul of European competition laws.‘ Barry Hearn (Orients chairman) said. ‘We are asking them to withdraw it. It is state aid and they don’t have the authority to make this kind of commercial investment under their charter.’

This another incident linked to the Olympics where there is no accountability.  It seems that although the decision to award West Ham the loan is technically illegal, it is allowed to happen because of its connection to the Olympic games. Should allowances such as this be made just because of its links to a major event ? It seems unlikely that West Ham will be able to pay back such a huge loan given football isn’t renowned for financial sustainability and it will be the Newham taxpayers who will be liable for the debt in the event of default.

In January, BBC London found a number of potential ‘abuses’  during the process leading up to the loan. These included:

  • Crucial documents explaining the bid in detail being withheld from councillors until shortly before the vote
  • No explanation as to whether the council would be liable for the debt if relegation-threatened West Ham defaulted
  • A ‘significant number’ of councillors holding reservations – but refusing to speak openly because they are allegedly “afraid” of missing out on lucrative positions
  • Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales declaring dozens of gifts from West Ham, with critics saying his impartiality has been compromised

For more information click BBC News

Spurs also intend to take the OPLC to court over a number of concerns they have about the process which led to the decision to give West Ham the £537 million stadium. They released a statement saying that,

‘Our lawyers have written to the OPLC, the Mayor of London, the Minister of Sport and the Secretary of State for Local Government and a separate letter to the London Borough of Newham raising a number of concerns with the processes which led to the award.’

‘The letters also requested – in the interests of transparency – for the provision of certain information concerning the processes, which the Club considers that it is entitled to. Tottenham Hotspur will determine its next step as and when it receives a response to these letters.’

Tottenham also plan to challenge the £40m loan which West Ham will be given at preferential rates that was not been offered to any other bidders for the stadium believed that this will form a key argument  for Spurs’ claims against the decision.

Tottenham said that they have now ‘sought permission from the High Court to bring a claim against the London Borough of Newham (“Newham”) for judicial review of Newham’s process in providing a loan for the conversion of the Olympic Stadium after the 2012 Games.’

A spokesperson from the OPLC stated that, ‘We have been consistent, fair, objective and entirely equal in our dealings with the bidders from start to finish. We are confident that if these judicial review proceedings are pursued, our approach will be entirely vindicated by the courts.’

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What Future for Seb and the Olympics?

London Olympic 2012 Chairman Sebastian Coe and British Olympic Association (BOA) Chairman Colin Moynihan attended the first ever World Olympic Sport Convention in Acapulco, Mexico on 22 October.

Against what The Telegraph described as a ‘bizarre backdrop of two pink flamingos, a peacock, a black swan and 1500 security police,’ its aim was to strengthen the relations, collaboration and partnership between National Olympic Committees and governments around the world.

Moynihan and Coe spoke to over 2,000 politicians and government representatives on the subject of key players working together in partnership to deliver both the upcoming and future Olympic Games, drawing on their joint experience as members of the London 2012 Olympic Board.

The delegates were all there to debate an 11-point plan for governments and sport to work together as well as providing a forum for countries to voice concerns. These ranged from fireworks at the London Olympic Games opening ceremony and the uncertain promise of flexible economy class airfares for each athlete and official coming to the London Games to doping, corruption and the use of sportsmen and women as pawns for political ends.

“Sport is not immune from politics. Sport is not an island. But it should never be the target for politicians wishing to demonstrate a political point,” emphasised Lord Moynihan in his speech.

“While we should respect the rules (of sovereign states), we should seek a sphere of ‘responsible’ autonomy to act freely in full respect of Governments and governmental authorities…..the right to self-government, to organise one’s activities and to manage them without external intrusion and instruction is critical to the survival of the Olympic Movement. This is where the autonomy of sport needs protecting.”

But underlying the official business and cocktail politics is Seb Coe’s future, post-2012. He needs to get elected onto the Board of the International Olympic Committee to continue his work in the international sports arena and the only way to do that is by becoming President of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), a post currently held by Senegalese Lamine Diack and then his next-in-line Vice-President, former pole-vaulter Sergey Bubka.

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