London 2012 Olympics: Anti-BP activists carry out sponsor sacking hoax as protests grow

Date: 

Apr 11 2012

Location: 

London, U.K.

Hoax: The London 2012 Olympic Games website was faked by group CAMSOL
The official London 2012 Olympic Games website was faked on Wednesday by protesters demanding that BP be dropped as one of the event’s official sponsors.
Published April 13, 2012 on The Telegraph UK by Jacquelin Magnay

A group calling themselves the Campaign for a Sustainable Olympics (Camsol) created their own version of the London 2012 site and posted a story claiming Locog had axed the oil company as one of their sustainability partners.

The cyber trick, which follows on from Trenton Oldfield’s disruption of last weekend’s Boat Race, has prompted fresh fears that protest movements are stepping up their campaigns against the Games. A collection of dissenting groups, organised by the Counter Olympics Network, will meet in central London on Saturday to co-ordinate their strategies. On its own website, CON announced they plan to undertake “major actions over the coming months and during the Olympics.

Next Monday a coalition of three significant protest groups - London Mining Network, Bhopal Medical Appeal and UK Tar Sands Network - will formally launch a direct campaign against three high profile Olympic sponsors, Dow Chemical, Rio Tinto and BP.

Meredith Alexander, a former member of Locog’s sustainability commission, will spearhead the campaign entitled Greenwash Gold 2012. Separately grass roots community groups are linking to the established protest group Occupy London for Olympic-related sit-ins designed to thwart construction of key buildings.

Earlier this week four activists were arrested at the Leyton Marsh site where local residents and Occupy protesters were attempting to thwart the building of temporary basketball courts to be used as training centres for Olympic teams.
Yet another group, made up of cyclists upset with the closure of major roads for Olympic lanes, is planning a mass ride during the Games, which could have significant disruption to the transportation of athletes and officials around official Games venues.Until now, protest activity surrounding the London Olympics has been mainly confined to Dow Chemical’s sponsorship of the Olympic stadium wrap.

A “die-in” staged in front of the International Olympic Committee inspection a fortnight ago gained almost as much attention as the more spectacular burning of an effigy of Locog chairman Lord Coe last year.But with only just over 100 days to go until the opening ceremony, protest groups are becoming more proactive, a point underlined by the attack using the London 2012 website yesterday.

Camsol, a small group of friends based in east London, spent just 24 hours preparing their stunt, which comprised sending out an email linking to a fake website purporting to be from the London 2012 organizers. They convinced the local London radio station LBC and City AM, a free morning newspaper, that the email was authentic and that BP had been dropped as the official "Sustainability Partner”.A spokesman for Camsol said: “This company was masquerading as being sustainable and green and a friend to the environment which they are not. We decided to masquerade as Locog and drop them as a sponsor.”

It is not the first time BP has been the focus of negative attention: arts activists have regularly protested about their sponsorship of the Tate.On Wednesday BP declined to comment but a spokesman said: “We are still the sustainability partner. Nothing has changed.”

The potency of protesters to disrupt the London Olympics was brought into stark focus last weekend by Oldfield, whose decision to swim into the Thames to protest at “elitism” forced the race to be halted. In his rambling online manifesto Oldfield has urged public disobedience at the Olympics.

Meanwhile the public statements by Locog and their apparent conciliatory message has upset many protest groups who are frustrated that their messages are not being heard.Lord Coe agreed to meet with anti-Dow Chemical protesters 10 days ago but the latter have insisted they have yet to receive a reply to their message accepting his offer.They also claim he has never responded to previous letters. At the time, Lord Coe maintaned: “We have a long history of peaceful demonstration in this country. As long as it doesn’t become a safety issue, we will take it as that.”

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