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May 03, 2007



The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has a fine upstanding record for ignoring the impact it may have on the populace of the host countries of the Olympiad and, in particular, the plight of Roma people (gypsies). The IOC awarded the 1936 Summer Olympics to Berlin and even named Germany as the host country of the 1940 Winter Olympics! It turned a blind eye when, on July 16, 1936, some 800 Roma people living in Berlin and its suburbs were arrested and interned under police guard in a special camp in the Berlin suburb of Marzahn. The week-long police roundup (or "clean up") of Roma people in Berlin, ordered by the German Ministry of the Interior, was in preparation for the beginning of the XIth Olympics on August 1, 1936. Many Roma people were later sent to concentration camps and killed.

The plight of half a dozen gypsy families who are being turfed off their site and with nowhere to go - so their homes can make way for the 2012 London Olympics stadium – may be nothing in comparison. But, out of respect for the memory of all the Roma people who were rounded up in preparation for the 1936 Olympics, and who later lost their lives, the IOC and the likes of Lord Coe, should have bent over backwards to accommodated the needs of London's gypsy community – who may be made homeless to make way for the Olympic stadium.

Hang your head in shame, Seb Coe, hang your head in shame!

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