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IOC to make human rights protection a core requirement for future Olympic Games hosts

The International Olympic Committee has made the protection of human rights a specific reference in its contract with host cities. Leading rights groups, including HRW and Amnesty, have praised the move.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Tuesday made specific safeguards to the protection of human rights in its revised host city contract, responding to concerns that major sporting events incite rights violations and corruption.

The revised contract was sent out to the 2024 summer Olympic bid cities, Paris and Los Angeles, and will be sent out to all subsequent bidders.

The new passage was drafted in collaboration with representatives from leading rights groups, including Transparency International, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW). It was based largely on the UN's Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights.

"Time after time, Olympic hosts have gotten away with abusing workers building stadiums, and with crushing critics and media who try to report about abuses," HRW's director of global initiatives, Minky Worden said. "The right to host the Olympics needs to come with the responsibility not to abuse basic human rights."

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"This latest step is another reflection of the IOC's commitment to embedding these values in all aspects of the Olympic Games," IOC President Thomas Bach said in a statement.

"We worked closely with SRA (Sport and Rights Alliance of NGOs) and we welcome its input, which is now reflected in the new version of the host city contract."

With many western cities deterred by the cost, disruption and politics of hosting major sporting events, developing countries are expected to increasingly put themselves forward for such events. The new contract puts greater emphasis on such countries meeting international labor and human rights standards ahead of being elected as hosts.

Lessons from Russia and Qatar

A Russian city and Qatar's Doha are among the suggested early candidates for the 2028 summer Olympics. However, both countries have been accused of major rights violations in their preparations for hosting major sporting events, Russia in the run up to the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and Doha ahead of the upcoming 2022 soccer World Cup.

Contractors in both host cities have been accused of abusing the rights of migrant workers.

China's human rights record also remained a major topic during its preparations to hosting the 2008 Olympics. Organizers were accused of forcefully evicting thousands of residents to make space for stadiums and venues.

dm/bw (Reuters, SID)

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