2024 Olympics: "Astonishing" omission of human rights in Host City Contract

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has failed to include an explicit requirement to respect and protect human rights in the Host City Contract for the 2024 Summer Olympics and Paralympics published last week, a move the Sport and Rights Alliance (SRA) has described as an ‘astonishing’ omission.

Eduard Nazarski, director of Amnesty International Netherlands – a partner in the SRA along with Transparency International Germany, the International Trade Union Confederation, Football Supporters Europe and Terre des Hommes – said:

"From the crackdown on protests and press freedom in Beijing 2008 and restrictions on gay rights and free speech around Sochi 2014, to heightened repression in Azerbaijan ahead of the European Games in Baku this summer and the thousands forcibly evicted in Rio to make way for infrastructure for next year’s Olympics, there is no denying that Olympic Games can and do lead to human rights abuses.

“The IOC knows this, which makes the omission of explicit references to human rights from the new Host City Contract even more astonishing. It is essential that the IOC wakes up to the human rights impact of its events, and lives up to the expectations created around Agenda 2020.  The Olympic charter states that sport is a human right, but when the staging of Olympic events falls short on protecting human rights, that claim rings increasingly hollow.”

The Host City Contract and several accompanying documents for the 2024 Olympics were launched on 16 September alongside the names of the bidding cities: Budapest, Hamburg, Los Angeles, Paris and Rome. It is the first new Host City Contract since the publication of Agenda 2020 last year, the IOC’s plan for the future of the Olympic Movement, which it claimed would promote Olympic values of non-discrimination, friendship, solidarity and fair play.

The new contract prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation – a clause introduced after Sochi 2014 – and includes requirements to allow the media to report freely on the Games and for the building of infrastructure for the event to comply with international labour standards.

However, none of these changes go far enough, said the SRA. To avoid a repeat of human rights abuses linked to a number of recent Olympic events, the Host City Contract for 2024 and all future Olympic events must require cities to make an explicit commitment to human rights. This includes compliance with international human rights obligations, access to remedy, human rights due diligence and risk assessment, Host cities must also have in-house capacity to implement and monitor compliance with international human rights standards.

Requirements on labour and anti-corruption standards are also severely lacking in detail. While host cities are required to comply with labour and anti-corruption laws in ‘all venue construction and infrastructure development projects’, no guarantees are required on merchandising or the supply chain.

Sylvia Schenk from Transparency International Germany added:

“Good Governance in sport as an overall concept is missing from the contract – anti-doping, for instance, is mentioned in the preamble but no anti-match-fixing. That gives the impression that for the IOC, corruption destroying the competition is less damaging than doping. The Organising Committee urgently needs a full compliance management system in place to meet international governance standards.”

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