The IOC Executive Committee is meeting in Rio de Janeiro these days (26-28 February) to discuss implementation of Agenda 2020, its “strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement”. The IOC’s adopted agenda requires Olympic host countries to respect anti-discrimination measures and labor standards, improve transparency, and promote good governance.
The new Sport and Rights Alliance (SRA see below for membership) addressed a letter to the IOC saying that “too often major sports events have seen people forcibly evicted from their homes to make way for infrastructure, workers exploited, campaigners locked up, the environment damaged beyond repair and notoriously opaque bidding processes,” … “The recommendations in the IOC’s Agenda 2020 are a chance to change that and ensure human rights, the environment and anti-corruption measures are central to all stages of the Olympic Games, from bidding, through to the development and delivery phase to final reporting.”
The SRA is a new coalition of leading human rights and sports groups, as well as trade unions, including: Amnesty International, FIFPro – World Players’ Union, Football Supporters Europe, Human Rights Watch, the International Trade Union Confederation, Supporters Direct Europe, Terre des Hommes, and Transparency International Germany. They seek to ensure mega-sporting events respect human rights (including children’s and labor rights), the environment, and anti-corruption requirements at all stages of the process – from bidding through construction, preparations to host events, and the hosting of the events themselves.
The alliance asks the IOC to adopt “robust due diligence procedures to ensure that the Games do not cause or contribute to human rights abuses in the hosting or staging of an Olympic event.” All these standards should not be based on goodwill, but should be non-negotiable and binding for all stakeholders, the letter said. In addition, the IOC should develop from the very beginning an independent monitoring mechanism to make sure promises made in the bidding phase and fixed in the host city contract are adhered to over the lifetime of the event.
The SRA campaign comes as a good time now that new procedures are going to be agreed upon. The fallacy that sports and politics should or could be separated is now generally dismissed and rights abuses, corruption, and repression should have no place in the Olympic movement.