New IOC standards must lead to clean up of global sports events, say leading NGOs, sports groups and unions

The International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s announcement of new standards around Olympics events must set a high benchmark for the world of sport to clean up its act on human and labour rights and ensure major sporting events are free from corruption, say leading non-governmental organisations (NGOs), trade unions and sports fans’ and athletes’ groups ahead of a key IOC meeting in Monaco next week.

In a joint letter to IOC president Dr. Thomas Bach this week, the organisations highlight the importance of adhering to the universal fundamental ethical principles in the Olympic Charter to prevent human rights abuses and lack of transparency in major sports events like the Olympic Games. It is signed by Amnesty International, FIFPro – World Players’ Union, Football Supporters Europe, Human Rights Watch, the International Trade Union Confederation, Supporters Direct Europe, Terre des Hommes International Federation and Transparency International Germany.

Next Monday and Tuesday (8-9 December), IOC members will meet in Monaco for the Committee’s 127th session, where they will discuss and vote on the new Olympic Agenda 2020 – what the IOC calls ‘a strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement’. It includes anti-discrimination measures, labour standards, and proposals to improve transparency and promote good governance.

The letter calls for major sporting events to be organised in a way that respects human rights - including  children’s and labour rights - the environment and anti-corruption requirements at all stages of the process - from bidding, through to the development and delivery phase to final reporting.

It comes after international outrage over the treatment of migrant workers building World Cup 2022 infrastructure in Qatar, police violence and forced evictions in Brazil ahead of this year’s World Cup and the 2016 Rio Olympics, as well as recent allegations of corruption in international and national sports federations. In addition, the Sochi Winter Olympics this year led to global condemnation of Russia’s appalling record on gay rights, environmental protection and freedom of expression.

Amnesty International Netherlands director Eduard Nazarski said:

“NGOS, sports fans and athletes are demanding change – too often we have seen people kicked out of their homes to make way for infrastructure for a major sporting event, workers exploited, the environment damaged beyond repair and notoriously opaque bidding processes.

“Sport is very influential and it can be a force for good, but it appears major sports bodies have lost track of many of the ideals it sets out to promote. The IOC’s Agenda 2020 is a key opportunity to change that. If the IOC cleans up its act, it can make sure that not only its own future events do not become bywords for corruption, exploitation and human rights abuses, but also influence other major sporting bodies to step up to the mark too.”

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