The Sport & Rights Alliance (SRA) released a statement on July 1 saying that planning for the 2022 Olympics needs to address key human rights issues. As a direct response to the Sustainability Plan of the IOC from May of this year, the SRA argues that the document remains silent on human rights, labor standards, freedom of expression and association, LGBTI rights, media and internet freedom, rights to peaceful assembly and of association, transparency and anti-corruption. The plan was developed jointly by the People’s Government of Beijing Municipality, the People’s Government of Hebei Province and Beijing Organising Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
Brendan Schwab, executive director of the World Players Association:
“Beijing’s Sustainability Plan stands in stark contrast to the IOC’s March commitment to respect and embed human rights in its operations.” “To fulfill its purpose, the Sustainability Plan needs to be integrated in a broader human rights due diligence process. Any human rights strategy should include assessing actual and potential rights impacts, acting on the findings and being transparent about how to address serious human rights concerns right to protest.”
The SRA claims that human rights abuses will directly affect Olympic planning and execution, including for athletes and fans from around the world, workers building venues, and journalists, among others. Due to no domestic media or internet freedoms in China, normally core requirements for Olympic hosts, the country has resisted requests for independent investigations into serious human rights violations. Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch:
“Beijing is committing serious human rights violations, including severe restrictions on journalists and the internet, labour abuses, and mass surveillance,” “These human rights abuses will directly affect the planning and execution of the Beijing 2022 Olympics, and the IOC needs to address them.”
Sylvia Schenk, chair of the Working Group Sport at Transparency International Germany, adds:
“The Beijing 2022 Sustainability Plan as it stands is a missed chance for the IOC to walk the talk, and to build back better by putting in practice the policies and public declaration it has widely portrayed in the media. This is demonstrated by not even mentioning the IOC’s responsibility to respect human rights.”
A truly comprehensive sustainability plan would encompass specific commitments for the protection and promotion of freedom of association and other workers’ rights in line with international standards and commitments to respect journalists’ and human rights defenders’ freedom of expression, the Sport & Rights Alliance said. Such commitments have completely been omitted in Beijing’s 2022 Sustainability Plan, which solely refers to national laws and regulations instead of the applicable international standards. Thus, this is particularly problematic in areas where China’s law and practice does not meet international human rights standards.
About: The Sport & Rights Alliance is a coalition of leading global non-governmental organizations, including Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Football Supporters Europe, Human Rights Watch, the International Trade Union Confederation, Transparency International Germany, and World Players Association, UNI Global Union.
The author holds a M.Sc. in sports management from the University of Bordeaux. He critically analyses and questions the power of sport and its impact
on the economical, ecological and social environment.