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Mega-Sporting Events and Human Rights—A Time for More Teamwork?*

Abstract
Abstract

Mega-Sporting Events (MSEs) like the Olympics and FIFA World Cup inspire humanity and have the potential to promote human rights, including through job creation and urban regeneration. Yet for over a decade MSEs have been linked to a pattern of human rights abuses that reads like a panoply of Business and Human Rights themes. The very legitimacy and social license of MSEs is increasingly on the line. Yet we may have reached a tipping point. In the past year the Commonwealth Games Federation, FIFA, and the International Olympic Committee have begun to instigate human rights reforms. A new multi-stakeholder coalition, chaired by Mary Robinson and facilitated by IHRB, meanwhile is pursuing innovative collaborate solutions to the human rights issues at stake. Supported by international agencies, governments, sports bodies, sponsors and broadcasters, and civil society, this coalition seeks to promote learning and accountability in a sector for whom business and human rights is new territory.

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*

The Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB) and Caux Round Table - Japan (CRT-J) have both produced articles in this edition of the Business and Human Rights Journal on mega-sporting events (MSEs) and human rights. One looks at the macro-picture, while the other focuses on efforts in Japan ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Our organizations have partnered for a number of years, and in 2015 and 2016 we produced joint submissions on human rights to the Tokyo Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games as this body seeks to develop its policies and processes around sustainability, responsible sourcing and human rights.

**

Research Fellow, Mega-Sporting Events Institute for Human Rights and Business [lucy.amis@ihrb.org].

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1 There is a sharp distinction in terms of audiences in both the stadia and television audiences between the men’s and women’s competition; the women’s event is proportionately smaller.The 2010 FIFA World Cup for men held in South Africa, according to some estimates, attracted 46.4 per cent of the world’s population. At FIFA 2014 the total audience over 64 matches was 3,429,873, http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/news/y=2014/m=9/news=2014-fifa-world-cup-braziltm-in-numbers-2443025.html (accessed 30 August 2016).

The FIFA Women’s World Cup held in Canada in 2015, by contrast, attracted a total audience of 1.35 million, http://www.fifa.com/womensworldcup/news/y=2015/m=7/news=key-figures-from-the-fifa-women-s-world-cup-canada-2015tm-2661648.html (accessed 30 August 2016).

2 Gibson Owen, ‘Fifa and IAAF endure grim 2015 but corruption crises far from over’, The Guardian (31 December 2015), https://www.theguardian.com/football/2015/dec/31/fifa-iaaf-corruption-crisis-2015 (accessed 30 August 2016).

3 WADA Statement: ‘Independent Investigation confirms Russian State manipulation of the doping control process’ (18 July 2016), https://www.wada-ama.org/en/media/news/2016-07/wada-statement-independent-investigation-confirms-russian-state-manipulation-of (accessed 30 August 2016).

5 ‘Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, Raquel Rolnik’, A/ HRC/13/20, http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/13session/A-HRC-13-20-Add3.pdf (accessed 30 August 2016); Amnesty International (2 June 2016), ‘BRAZIL: VIOLENCE HAS NO PLACE IN THESE GAMES! RISK OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AT THE RIO 2016 OLYMPIC GAMES’, https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/amr19/4088/2016/en/ (accessed 30 Aug 2016).

6 Stonewall International, ‘Country Briefing Russia’ (February 2014), http://www.stonewall.org.uk/sites/default/files/russia_briefing_2014_0.pdf (accessed 30 August 2016).

7 Amnesty International (30 March 2016), ‘THE UGLY SIDE OF THE BEAUTIFUL GAME: EXPLOITATION OF MIGRANT WORKERS ON A QATAR 2022 WORLD CUP SITE’, https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde22/3548/2016/en/ (accessed 30 August 2016).

8 The MSE life-cycle typically lasts in the region of 12 years, beginning when host countries or cities put themselves forward as candidates to host an event as part of the bid process, and runs through planning and delivery, to the legacy phase. During the legacy phase athlete villages are often converted into new housing stock, and any sustainably-visioned venues are dismantled for re-use either within grassroots sport in the home market or for use at MSEs overseas. Several temporary Rio 106 venues are due to be dismantled to become schools or smaller, grassroots sports facilities, Liz Tay, ‘About Half Of Rio’s 2016 Olympic Park Will Be “Recycled” Into Schools And Smaller Venues: Here’s How’, Business Insider (7 October 2013), http://www.businessinsider.com.au/about-half-of-rios-2016-olympic-park-will-be-recycled-into-schools-and-smaller-venues-heres-how-2013-10 (accessed 30 August 2016). MSE history is, however, littered with ‘white elephant’ projects, with South Africa among those struggling to fill or maintain venues built for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Quinton Fortune, ‘South Africa spent £2.4bn to host the 2010 World Cup. What happened next?’, The Guardian (23 September 2014), https://www.theguardian.com/football/2014/sep/23/south-africa-2010-world-cup-what-happened (accessed 30 August 2016).

9 Amnesty International, note 5, Ch. 4, ‘Undue Restrictions and Violations of the Right to Peaceful Protest’, 20–23.

10 IHRB, ‘Striving for Excellence – Mega-Sporting Events and Human Rights’ (October 2013), http://www.ihrb.org/pdf/2013-10-21_IHRB_Mega-Sporting-Events-Paper_Web.pdf, at 9–17 (accessed 30 August 2016). See also, www.megasportingevents.org (accessed 30 August 2016).

11 Marcel Gomez and Stefano Wrobleski, Report on ‘Mega-sporting events in Brazil: Human rights riskareas’, http://www.megasportingevents.org/pdf/Reporter-Brasil-MSEs-Human-Rights-Risk-Areas.pdf, at 12–13 (accessed 30 August 2016).

12 IHRB, note 10, at 14–15.

13 See the report of a Wilton Park conference convened by IHRB, the Swiss Government and Wilton Park in November 2015, in Glion Switzerland, https://www.wiltonpark.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/WP1428-Report.pdf (accessed 30 August 2016).

14 Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics and is due to host the 2022 Winter Games. Brazil has hosted the 2014 FIFA World Cup and Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympics. Russia hosted the Sochi 2014 Winter Games and is due to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and Japan is scheduled to host the 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 Summer Olympics.

15 Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, ‘Mega-sporting events must not undermine human rights’ (26 November 2015), http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/MegaSportingEvents.aspx (accessed 30 August 2016).

16 Morrison John, The Social License: How to Keep Your Organization Legitimate (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).

17 Morrison John, ‘Restoring the Social Licence of Mega-Sporting Events’ (18 January 2016), http://www.ihrb.org/focus-areas/mega-sporting-events/restoring-the-social-licence-of-mega-sporting-events (accessed 30 August 2016).

18 Report of Wilton Park conference, note 13.

19 IHRB, note 10, at 8–9.

20 http://www.unhcr.org/uk/figures-at-a-glance.html (accessed 30 August 2016).

21 IHRB, note 10, at 26–7;www.megasportingevents.org, note 10.

22 FIFA, ‘Fact Sheet: FIFA’s Human Rights approach’ (April 2016), http://resources.fifa.com/mm/document/affederation/bodies/02/76/71/45/fifafactsheetonhumanrights_april2016_en_neutral.pdf (accessed 30 August 2016).

23 FIFA, ‘FAQ Statutory Reforms: 66th FIFA Congress’ (12–13 May 2016), http://resources.fifa.com/mm/document/affederation/footballgovernance/02/78/97/40/20160504_faq66thcongress_final_en_neutral.pdf (accessed 30 August 2016).

24 FIFA, ‘FIFA President announces oversight body for workers’ welfare’ (22 April 2016), http://www.fifa.com/about-fifa/news/y=2016/m=4/news=fifa-president-announces-oversight-body-for-workers-welfare-2782174.html (accessed 30 August 2016).

25 Among other things Olympic Agenda 2020 has led to reforms to the bid process, encouraging more ‘reuse and renovation’ of facilities versus insisting on brand new stadiums, https://www.olympic.org/olympic-agenda-2020 (accessed 30 August 2016).

26 Children Win, ‘IOC in talks over human rights recommendations’ (2 August 2016), http://www.childrenwin.org/ioc-in-talks-over-human-rights-recommendations/ (accessed 30 August 2016). Revised IOC Code of Ethics: https://stillmed.olympic.org/media/Document%20Library/OlympicOrg/IOC/What-We-Do/Leading-the-Olympic-Movement/Code-of-Ethics/EN-IOC-Code-of-Ethics-2016.pdf (accessed 11 November 2016).

27 John Ruggie and Shift Ltd in their report, ‘“For the Game. For the World”’. FIFA and Human Rights’, for example, elaborate on some of the institutional complexities that exist within FIFA, https://www.solidar.ch/sites/default/files/ruggie_humanrightsfifa_reportapril2016.pdf (accessed 30 August 2016).

28 Some scholarly articles go so far as to address assertions that sport is developing a distinct jurisprudence of its own, presided over by the Court of Arbitration for Sport: See K Foster, ‘Lex Sportiva and Lex Ludica: the Court Of Arbitration for Sport’s Jurisprudence’ (2005) 3:2 Entertainment and Sports Law Journal 2, http://www.entsportslawjournal.com/articles/10.16997/eslj.112/ (accessed 11 November 2016). The Court of Arbitrartion for Sport is an independent legal institution based in Lausanne, Switzerland: http://www.tas-cas.org/en/general-information/frequently-asked-questions.html (accessed 30 August 2016).

29 Sport as a means to promote education, health, development and peace, UN Doc. A/RES/69/6 (2014) (adopted on 31 October 2014), http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/69/6—the Resolution among other things: ‘Supports the independence and autonomy of sport as well as the mission of the International Olympic Committee in leading the Olympic movement.’

30 Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, UN Doc. A/RES/70/1 (adopted on 25 September 2015), http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/70/1 (accessed 30 August 2016).

31 Panja Tariq, ‘100,000 Sponsor Tickets Made Available to Fans, FIFA Says’, Bloomberg (6 June 2014), http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-06-06/100-000-sponsor-tickets-made-available-to-fans-fifa-says (accessed 30 August 2016); Olympic marketing revenue from 2009-2012 exceeded $8 billion, https://stillmed.olympic.org/Documents/IOC_Marketing/OLYMPIC_MARKETING_FACT_%20FILE_2014.pdf, at 6 (accessed 30 August 2016).

32 Ruggie, note 27.

33 https://www.wiltonpark.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/WP1428-Swiss-National-Contact-Point-Initial-Assessment-FIFA.pdf. In its initial assessment the Swiss NCP noted that, ‘The OECD Guidelines expressly establish legally non-binding principles and standards for responsible business conduct, which is generally understood as the responsibility of entities involved in business or commercial activities … Whether an entity can be considered to have commercial activities, should be decided by the competent NCP through a case-by-case analysis based on the concrete circumstances.’

34 Former President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Currently President and Chair of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, http://www.mrfcj.org/.

* The Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB) and Caux Round Table - Japan (CRT-J) have both produced articles in this edition of the Business and Human Rights Journal on mega-sporting events (MSEs) and human rights. One looks at the macro-picture, while the other focuses on efforts in Japan ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Our organizations have partnered for a number of years, and in 2015 and 2016 we produced joint submissions on human rights to the Tokyo Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games as this body seeks to develop its policies and processes around sustainability, responsible sourcing and human rights.

** Research Fellow, Mega-Sporting Events Institute for Human Rights and Business [].

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Business and Human Rights Journal
  • ISSN: 2057-0198
  • EISSN: 2057-0201
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