Editor's note: Anna Antseliovich heads the sports practice at the Moscow-based legal group Clever Consult. She also works as a senior researcher at the Federal Science Center for Physical Culture and Sport (Russia).
The Olympic Games have always been a source of
genuine interest for spectators as Olympians have repeatedly demonstrated astounding
capacity of the human body and mind in winning Olympic gold, or by achieving
success despite all odds.
At the ancient and even the first modern
Olympic Games, there was no concept of a national team; each Olympian represented
only himself/herself. However, at the 1906 Intercalated Games for
the first time, athletes were nominated by the National Olympic Committees
(‘NOCs’) and competed as members of national teams representing their
respective countries. At the opening ceremony, the athletes walked under the
flags of their countries. This was a major shift, which meant that not only the
athletes themselves competed against each other, but so too did the nations in
unofficial medal standings.
The nomination and selection of athletes by their
NOCs to compete under their national flag and represent their country is a
matter of pride for the vast majority of athletes. However, to what extent does
such a scheme correspond to the ideals which the Olympic Games were based on in
ancient times? Is it possible to separate sport and politics in the modern
Editor's note: Lindsay Brandon is Associate Attorney at Law Offices of Howard
“Tell the white people of America and
all over the world that if they don’t seem to care for the things black people
do, they should not go to see black people perform.” – American sprinter and Olympic Medalist John Carlos
On 21 April 2021, the Athletes’ Commission
(AC) of the International Olympic Committee (“IOC”) received
the “full support of the IOC Executive Board for a set of recommendations in
regard to the Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter and Athlete Expression at the
Olympic Games.” This came over a year after the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games were
postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and almost a year after the IOC and AC
embarked on an “extensive qualitative and quantitative” consultation process to
reform Rule 50 involving over
3,500 athletes from around the globe.
Since its introduction of the new
guidelines in January 2020, Rule
50 has been touted by the IOC as a means to protect the neutrality of sport
and the Olympic Games, stating that “No kind of demonstration or political,
religious or radical propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues, or
other areas.” In other words, the
Olympics are a time to celebrate sport, and any political act or demonstration
might ruin their “moment
In fact, the Rule 50 Guidelines say
that a fundamental principle of sport is that it is neutral, and “must be
separate from political, religious or any other type of interference.” But this
separation is not necessarily rooted in totality in modern sports culture,
particularly in the United States (“U.S.”).
This is evidenced by the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee
to not sanctioning Team USA athletes for protesting at the Olympics. The
USOPC Athletes stated “Prohibiting athletes to freely express their views
during the Games, particularly those from historically underrepresented and
minoritized groups, contributes to the dehumanization of athletes that is at
odds with key Olympic and Paralympic values.” More...
Editor's note: Yuri Yagi is a sports lawyer involved in Sports Federations and Japanese Sports Organizations including the Japan Equestrian
Federation (JEF), the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), the Japanese
Olympic Committee (JOC), the Japan Sports Council (JSC) and the All-Japan High School Equestrian Federation.
Japan has held
three Olympic Games since the inception of the modern Olympics;Tokyo Summer
Olympic Games in 1964, Sapporo Winter Olympic Games in 1972, and Nagano Winter
Olympic Games in 1998. Therefore, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (Tokyo 2020) are supposed to
be the fourth to be held in Japan, the second for Tokyo. Tokyo 2020 were
originally scheduled for 24 July 2020 to 9 August 2020. Interestingly, the word
‘postpone’ or ‘postponement’ does not appear in the Host City Contract (HCC).
However, the International
Olympic Committee (IOC), the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG), the Japanese
Olympic Committee (JOC), and the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and
Paralympic Games (TOCOG) decided on 24 March 2020 that Tokyo 2020 would be
postponed because of the pandemic of COVID-19. Later on, the exact dates were fixed
‘from 23 July 2021 (date of the Opening Ceremony) to 8 August 2021 (date of the
The process of the
decision is stipulated in the ‘ADDENDUM N° 4’ signed by IOC, TMG, JOC and TOCOG.
This paper provides
an overview of the current situation, along with legal and other issues in
Japan that have arisen due to the postponement of Tokyo 2020 due to COVID-19.
The overview is offered from the perspective of a citizen of the host city and
includes a consideration of national polls, the torch relay, vaccination,
training camps, ever increasing costs, and the related provisions in the
Candidature File and the Host City Contract. More...
Editor's note: In the coming days we will introduce the supporters of our upcoming ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference 2018 (also known as #ISLJConf18). To do so, we have sent them a tailored questionnaire aimed at reflecting both their activities and their expectations for the conference. It is a good opportunity for us to thank them for their enthusiastic support and commitment to international sports law research. We are very proud to start this series of interviews with Women in Sports Law, an association launched in 2016 and which has already done so much to promote and advance the role of women in international sports law (many thanks to Despina Mavromati for kindly responding to our questions on behalf of WISLaw).
1. Can you explain to our readers what WISLaw is
Women In Sports Law (WISLaw, www.wislaw.co) is an international association based in Lausanne that unites more
than 300 women from 50 countries specializing in sports law. It is a
professional network that aims at increasing the visibility of women working in
the sector, through a detailed members’ directory and various small-scale talks
and events held in different countries around the world. These small-scale
events give the opportunity to include everyone in the discussion and enhance the
members’ network. Men from the sector and numerous arbitral institutions,
conference organizers and universities have come to actively support our
2. What are the challenges and opportunities for
women getting involved in international sports law?
Women used to be invisible in this sector. All-male
panels were typical at conferences and nobody seemed to notice this flagrant
lack of diversity. WISLaw created this much-needed platform to increase
visibility through the members’ directory and through a series of small-scale
events where all members, independent of their status or seniority, can attend
and be speakers.
Another difficulty is that European football (soccer)
is traditionally considered to be a “male-dominated” sport, despite the fact
that there are so many great female football teams around the world. The same misperception
applies to sports lawyers!
Last, there is a huge number of women lawyers
working as in-house counsel and as sports administrators. There is a glass
ceiling for many of those women, and the WISLaw annual evaluation of the
participation of women in those positions attempts to target their issues and
shed more light into this specific problem.
3. What are the burning issues in international
sports law that you would like to see discussed at the conference?
The ISLJ Annual Conference has already set up a
great lineup of topics combining academic and more practical discussions in
the most recent issues in international sports law.
4. Why did you decide to support the ISLJ Annual
International Sports Law Conference?
International Sports Law Centre has promoted and supported WISLaw since the
very beginning. The ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference was the
first big conference to officially include a WISLaw lunch talk in its program,
allowing thus the conference attendees to be part of a wider informal
discussion on a specific topical issue and raise their questions with respect
to WISLaw. Another important reason why WISLaw supports this conference is
because the conference organizers are making sincere efforts to have increased
diversity in the panels : this year’s ISLJ Annual International Sports Law
Conference is probably the first sports law conference to come close to a full gender
balance in its panels, with 40% of the speakers being women !