‘Breathless Olympics’ highlights legacy of ‘poor air quality’ in Tower Hamlets 2012 host borough

'Breathless Olympics'� at Bob's Park in Bromley-by-Bow to raise awareness of East End's chronic air

'Breathless Olympics'� at Bob's Park in Bromley-by-Bow to raise awareness of East End's chronic air pollution. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

A ‘Breathless Olympics’ has been staged at Bromley-by-Bow to draw attention to the East End’s chronic air pollution ‘legacy’ in what was one of the five ‘host’ London boroughs for the 2012 Games.

'Breathless Olympics'� at Bob's Park in Bromley-by-Bow to raise awareness of East End's chronic air

'Breathless Olympics'� at Bob's Park in Bromley-by-Bow to raise awareness of East End's chronic air pollution. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

It aimed to raise awareness of children living close to major traffic routes like the A12 and A13 in east London having 10 per cent less lung capacity growing up in areas with poor air quality.

Among visitors to the ‘Games’ was the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, one of the ‘host’ boroughs that were supposed to benefit from the Olympics legacy.

But instead, air quality continues falling short of EU regulations, organisers of the ‘Breathless Olympics’ point out.

'Breathless Olympics'� at Bob's Park in Bromley-by-Bow to raise awareness of East End's chronic air

'Breathless Olympics'� at Bob's Park in Bromley-by-Bow to raise awareness of East End's chronic air pollution. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

“This draws attention to London’s toxic air,” one organiser explained. “It shows the power of the community in bringing an invisible and important issue to life.”


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Fellows from the ‘Year Here’ postgraduate course in social innovation put the stunt together at Bob’s Park next to Bromley-By-Bow health centre in St Leonard’s Road, which runs alongside the A12 dual-carriageway Blackwall Tunnel Approach.

They had just 24 hours to arrange the stunt, after being briefed yesterday afternoon to consult experts on the air issue and community groups, all in a day.

'Breathless Olympics'� at Bob's Park in Bromley-by-Bow to raise awareness of East End's chronic air

'Breathless Olympics'� at Bob's Park in Bromley-by-Bow to raise awareness of East End's chronic air pollution. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

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The ‘Breathless Olympics’ involved games and music to get everyone talking about air pollution, inspired by the Extinction Rebellion climate protest group which has been demonstrating across London this week as part of its “global civil disobedience” campaign.

It was hosted by the Bromley-by-Bow centre which works with social inequality and those affected by the air quality issue in one of the most polluted areas of London.

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