The 40 recommendations of the Olympic Agenda 2020 are out! First
thought: one should not underplay the 40 recommendations, they constitute (on
paper at least) a potential leap forward for the IOC. The media will focus on the hot stuff: the Olympic
channel, the pluri-localisation of the Games, or their dynamic format. More
importantly, and to some extent surprisingly to us, however, the IOC has also fully embraced
sustainability and good governance. Nonetheless, the long-term legacy of the
Olympic Agenda 2020 will hinge on the IOC’s determination to be true to these
fundamental commitments. Indeed, the devil is always in the implementation, and
the laudable intents of some recommendations will depend on future political choices
by Olympic bureaucrats.
For those interested in human rights and
democracy at (and around) the Olympics, two aspects are crucial: the IOC’s
confession that the autonomy of sport is intimately linked to the quality of
its governance standards and the central role the concept of sustainability is
to play in the bidding process and the host city contract. More...
Three weeks ago, I gave a talk for a group of visiting researchers
at Harvard Law School on the accountability of the IOC for human rights abuses
caused by hosting Olympic Games. On the day of that talk, Human Rights Watch announced
that the International Olympic Committee (“IOC”) would insert new language into
the Host City Contract presumably for the 2022 Olympic Games onwards. The new
language apparently requires the parties to the contract to:
“take all necessary measures to ensure that
development projects necessary for the organization of the Games comply with
local, regional, and national legislation, and international agreements and
protocols, applicable in the host country with regard to planning,
construction, protection of the environment, health, safety, and labour laws.”More...
The IOC has trumpeted it worldwide as a « historical
the United Nations has recognised the sacrosanct autonomy of sport. Indeed, the
Resolution A/69/L.5 (see the final draft) adopted by the General Assembly on 31 October states
that it “supports the independence and autonomy of sport as well as the
mission of the International Olympic Committee in leading the Olympic movement”.
This is a logical conclusion to a year that has brought the two organisations closer
than ever. In April, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appointed former IOC President, Jacques Rogge, Special
Envoy for Youth Refugees and Sport. At
this occasion, the current IOC President, Thomas Bach, made an eloquent speech celebrating a “historic step forward to better
accomplish our common mission for humanity” and a memorandum
understanding was signed between the UN and the IOC. This is all
sweet and well, but is there something new under the sun?More...
On 6 October 2014, the
CAS upheld the appeal filed by the former General Secretary of the World Karate
Federation (WKF), George Yerolimpos, against the 6 February 2014 decision of
the WKF Appeal Tribunal. With the award, the CAS confirmed a six-months
membership suspension imposed upon the Appellant by the WKF Disciplinary
Tribunal. At a first glance, the
case at issue seems to be an ordinary challenge of a disciplinary sanction
imposed by a sports governing body. Nevertheless, this appeal lies at the heart
of a highly acrimonious political fight for the leadership of the WKF, featuring
two former ‘comrades’: Mr Yerolimpos and
Mr Espinos (current president of WKF). As the CAS puts it very lucidly, "this
is a story about a power struggle within an international sporting body", a story reminding the Saturn devouring his son myth.
This case, therefore, brings
the dirty laundry of sports politics to the fore. Interestingly enough, this
time the CAS does not hesitate to grapple with the political dimension of the case. More...
The Olympic Games are a universal moment of celebration of sporting excellence. But, attention is also quickly drawn
to their dark side, such as environmental issues, human rights
breaches and poor living conditions of people living near the Olympic sites. In
comparison, however, little commentary space is devoted to the views of
athletes, the people making the Olympics. This article
tries to remediate this, by focussing on Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter which prevents
athletes from freely expressing their (political) thoughts. More...