IOC includes human rights requirements in Host City Contract

Photo: Adam Groffman/Flickr

Photo: Adam Groffman/Flickr


By Stine Alvad
After consultative meetings with human rights and labour organisations, the IOC, for the first time, has included an explicit reference to the protection of human rights principles in the Olympic Host City Contract.

With a revised Host City Contract, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has included a direct reference to specific human rights principles. The revision comes after the IOC, as a step in the implementation of the Agenda 2020, has held meetings with a range of rights organisations with the purpose to “strengthen provisions protecting human rights and countering fraud and corruption related to the organisation of the Olympic Games”, a press release from the IOC says.

“Strengthening transparency, good governance and accountability are key elements of Olympic Agenda 2020. Based on these principles, the IOC is moving forward by including provisions in the Host City Contract aimed specifically at protecting human rights and countering corruption,” said IOC President Thomas Bach.

The additions to the revised Host City Contract are applauded by rights organisations, a coalition of which on earlier occasions have criticized the IOC for neglecting human rights violations in host countries. The coalition, called Sport and Rights Alliance (SRA), advocates rights in sport and includes Human Rights Watch, Transparency International, the International Trade Union Confederation, UNI World Athletes and FIFPro and more.

“Time after time, Olympic hosts have gotten away with abusing workers building stadiums, and with crushing critics and media who try to report abuses,” said director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch (HRW), Minky Worden, in a joint statement from SRA. “The right to host the Olympics needs to come with the responsibility not to abuse basic human rights.”

Former and future Olympic host countries, like Russia, Qatar and China, have been met with criticism for not adhering to human rights and labor laws. The IOC, too, has been accused for not doing more to secure that human right abuses do not occur in connection with hosting Olympics. The rights organisations, who have been consulted in the revision process have hopes that the new addition will have a positive effect, not only on the Olympics, but also on other major sports events.

 “This is an important step by the IOC for the future,” said Sharan Burrow, International Trade Union Confederation general secretary according to the HRW statement. “Implementing the UN Guiding Principles across all major global sporting events could help break the cycle of human rights abuses, and this example from the IOC should be applied to all such events, starting now,” Burrow said and is backed by Brendan Schwab, head of UNI World Athletes.

“If implemented, the revised Host City Contract will help ensure that Olympic hosts respect ‘human dignity’ as required by the Olympic Charter,” Schwab said. “This should have a ripple effect across all mega-sporting events such as the World Cup, and wherever abuses tied to sport still occur.”

Following the revised contract, host cities must agree to “protect and respect human rights and ensure any violation of human rights is remedied in a manner consistent with international agreements, laws and regulations applicable in the Host Country and in a manner consistent with all internationally-recognized human rights standards and principles, including the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, applicable in the Host Country.”


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