Cleaning Up the Olympics

According to the Montreal Gazette newspaper, “When the Olympic Games begin in London next week, it won’t just be the best athletes from around the world who will have descended upon the British capital.”

Following are excerpts from the article:

“A small army of cleaners, nearly all students, have flown in from equally far-flung countries to play their part in the Games and earn some money at the same time.

While athletes and officials stay in a brand new Olympic Village, these cleaners will live in ‘Camp Cleanevent,’ a compound on the site of a former scrap metal merchant with about 100 temporary cabins, each sleeping 10 people in bunk beds.

“The recruits have come from far and wide to join the massive cleaning operation for the Games. Many are from Hungary and Spain, with others from across Europe and beyond. Flags from France, New Zealand, and the United States flutter above the cabins.

“The compound made the news in Britain [last] week when the Daily Mail newspaper said some of the arrivals had described it as a prison camp or a slum, with one shower for every 75 people.

“The camp’s corrugated iron gates, barbed wire and battered sign reading “J Collins, Scrap metal merchant” does seem a world away from the gleaming Olympic stadium and the $34-million Orbit Tower.

“But while the temporary cabins might have been unexpected, the spartan accommodation did not seem a major surprise for those heading off to work at the Olympic Park on Wednesday.

“For most, the pay offsets any reservations about living conditions. The cleaners get over eight pounds ($12.40) an hour, well above Britain’s national minimum wage of 6.19 pounds for adults or 4.98 pounds for those aged 18 to 20, along with three meals a day, and free transport to venues.