Sporting events, a magnet for protests


BRAZIL-PROTESTSPARIS, France, June 20 – Tens of thousands of people have rallied in major Brazilian cities against the huge costs of hosting the 2014 World Cup, in the latest protests to mark major sporting events.

Some precedents:

– 1968 OLYMPIC GAMES IN MEXICO: Students in Mexico disagree about state money being spent on the Olympics and stage a series of protests, all broken up violently by the police. Ten days before the Games are to begin the army opens fire on a peaceful rally and kills more than 300, according to human rights groups, 44 according to the official toll.

– 1988 OLYMPIC GAMES IN SEOUL: Several months before the Games open in September, extremist students launch demonstrations against the Olympics, seeing them as a way of perpetuating the division of South and North Korea. The Games go ahead unhindered.

– 1998 WORLD CUP IN FRANCE: In the days leading up to the world’s major soccer tournament, Air France pilots go on strike, almost paralysing air traffic.

Management and unions representing the pilots reach a compromise deal to end the strike hours before the World Cup kicks off on June 10, allowing the company, which is designated the official carrier of the tournament, to operate 160 special flights carrying teams and their supporters between the 10 French towns hosting the matches.

– 2000 OLYMPIC GAMES IN SYDNEY: Aborigines, who make up less than three percent of the Australian population, threaten to demonstrate at the opening of the Games, and to form a human chain between Sydney airport and the city centre, in protest at alleged discrimination. Their protests remain limited in scope due to divisions in their ranks and the lack of manpower.

– 2010 WORLD CUP IN SOUTH AFRICA: Minibus taxi operators organise often violent demonstrations in towns across South Africa, notably in Johannesburg and Soweto, against a new public bus system intended to ferry fans to World Cup matches.

BRAZIL-PROTEST-CHICKOne person is killed and several injured in 2009 and 2010 in shootings at BRT buses, known locally as Rea Vaya, which taxi operators see as a threat to their near-monopoly on commuter services.

Also, in July, 2009, a strike paralyses for a week the construction of stadiums for the World Cup as some 70,000 workmen down tools in what turns out to be a successful fight for higher wages.

– 2008 OLYMPIC GAMES IN BEIJING: In the run-up to the Games, protests take place in numerous countries to protest against China’s human rights record. Sometimes violent incidents take place as the Olympic flame is carried around the world.