Striving for excellence: mega sporting events and human rights

Striving for excellence: mega sporting events and human rights

From the perspective of human rights, "Mega Sporting Events” (MSEs),  bring both opportunities and risks. Large sporting events precipitate massive public and private investment needed to create new jobs and boost employability, along with the potential for improving essential infrastructure, regenerating urban areas, developing housing and promoting increased participation in sport and healthy living. At the same time, MSEs have come under repeated scrutiny from human rights experts and campaigners over a gamut of concerns.

Now with events in Brazil, Russia and Qatar having rekindled the debate over the social opportunity costs of hosting MSEs, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), FIFA and other international sports governing bodies may face growing demands to reform their candidate city bid requirements and host city agreements to reflect emerging international standards and respond to new stakeholder expectations on a range of sustainability issues.

This paper focuses primarily on two MSEs, the Olympics and FIFA World Cup. It analyses the extent to which human rights-related concerns are being addressed by sports governing bodies and the hosts of MSEs, and highlights examples of emerging good practices that advance respect for human rights. At the same time, apparent gaps in the current governance behind these events are discussed, as are mounting human rights relevant concerns over several MSEs on the horizon. The paper concludes with a series of suggested recommendations for key actors as they seek to ensure that MSEs leave a positive human rights legacy in the years ahead.

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