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IOC bolsters Host City Contract with human rights, anti-corruption measures

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has moved to alter its Host City Contract for the Olympic Games by introducing new guidelines relating to human rights, anti-corruption and sustainable development standards.

The changes have been drawn up as part of the Agenda 2020 reform package and come following meetings between IOC president Thomas Bach and representatives of the Sport and Rights Alliance (SRA), which includes Transparency International Germany, UNI World Athletes, Terre des Hommes, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

The Host City Contract changes will be enforced from the 2024 Olympic Games, hosting rights to which are now being contested by Los Angeles and Paris. The Contract now includes a section designed to strengthen provisions protecting human rights and countering fraud and corruption related to the organisation of the Olympic Games.

“Strengthening transparency, good governance and accountability are key elements of Olympic Agenda 2020,” Bach said. “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.

“The organisation of the Olympic Games should always promote and enhance the fundamental values of Olympism. This latest step is another reflection of the IOC’s commitment to embedding these values in all aspects of the Olympic Games.”

Responding to the changes, the SRA said they represented an “essential step”, following the widespread abuses linked to past Olympics such as Rio 2016, Beijing 2008 and the 2014 winter Games in Sochi.

The 2014 Sochi Games were marred by forced evictions, abuses against migrant workers, media censorship, a harsh crackdown on civil society in Russia and discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.

More than 22,000 families were evicted during preparations for the 2016 Rio Olympics , and there was significant increase in the removal of street children, and police violence.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC general secretary, said: “This is an important step by the IOC for the future. Implementing the UN Guiding Principles across all major global sporting events will help break the cycle of human rights abuses, and this example from the IOC should be applied to all such events, starting now.”

Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch, added: “For far too long, Olympic hosts got away with abuses of workers building stadiums, and crushing of media and critics. The right to host the Olympics needs to come with the responsibility not to abuse basic human rights.”