IOC adds anti-discrimination to host contract
Sep. 25, 2014
The IOC will require future Olympic host cities to abide by rules that forbid any kind of discrimination, a move prompted by the outcry caused by Russia's adoption of a law banning so-called gay "propaganda" before the Sochi Winter Games.
The International Olympic Committee sent a letter to the three candidates for the 2022 Winter Games specifying that the host city contract will include new wording on non-discrimination.
The language, based on Principle 6 in the Olympic Charter, also includes a specific reference to discrimination based on gender.
The new clause — seen by The Associated Press — requires the host city and national Olympic committee to "conduct all activities in a manner which promotes and enhances the fundamental principles and values of Olympism, in particular the prohibition of any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise, as well as the development of the Olympic Movement."
The inclusion of the new language follows the global controversy that surrounded the buildup to the Sochi Games after Russia passed a law prohibiting gay "propaganda" to minors. The law was passed in the year before the games and led to international protests by gay and human rights groups.
International gay rights groups All Out and Athlete Ally were among those pushing the IOC to add the language to the host contract.
"This ... sends a clear message to future host cities that human rights violations, including those against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, will not be tolerated," said Andre Banks, co-founder and executive director of All Out. "We will continue working to make sure this change is powerfully enforced. These new rules must prevent a replay of Sochi."
All Out is also urging the IOC to amend Principle 6 to specifically prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity.
The three finalists in the bidding for the 2022 Games are Almaty, Kazakhstan; Beijing, and Oslo, Norway. The Oslo bid, facing significant political and public opposition in Norway, remains in limbo and could still drop out. The IOC will select the host city on July 31 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The IOC move was also welcomed by Human Rights Watch, which urged FIFA and other sports bodies to enact a similar clause as a requirement for organizers of major events such as the World Cup.
"This should be the first of many steps toward ensuring that future host cities fully respect human dignity, as the Olympic Charter requires," said Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch.
The organization said more pressure should be put on Saudi Arabia, which sent a male-only team to the ongoing Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
In the letter to the bid cities, the IOC also states that it will make no unilateral changes to the sports program after the host city has been chosen. In the past, the IOC has sometimes added sports, disciplines or events three years before a games, bringing extra costs and other logistical challenges for host cities.
The new contract states that any changes made after the host city selection that create "material adverse effects" can be applied only in "mutual agreement" between the IOC and the city.
The moves reflect a pattern of change under IOC President Thomas Bach, who was elected just over a year ago. He is pushing a series of reforms — called "Olympic Agenda 2020" — that will be voted on by IOC members at a special session in Monaco in December.
Cutting the cost of hosting the Olympics is one of Bach's goals. Several cities pulled out of the 2022 bidding because they were scared off by the $51 billion price tag associated with the Sochi Games, although much of the money was for long-term infrastructure projects rather than Olympic operational costs.
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