Friday, August 16, 2013

IOC, whose current president made a mockery of rules about human rights, discrimination, human dignity and press freedoms, prepares to elect a new one

Also: Does perform­ance of U.S. national anthem violate Russia's gay propaganda law?

Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch, edited “China’s Great Leap: The Beijing Games and Olympian Human Rights.” and has just written a piece published in the New York Times entitled The Olympics’ Leadership Mess 

...Jacques Rogge of Belgium, will be remembered in large part for the glaring contradiction between the I.O.C.’s explicit vision of its lofty role in the world (as outlined in the rules and guidelines of its charter) and the fact that Mr. Rogge has been responsible for two Olympics with extensive human rights violations: the 2008 summer games in Beijing and the 2014 winter games in Sochi, Russia, which start in less than six months.
     To host the Olympics, governments and cities pledge uphold the I.O.C.’s “Fundamental Principles of Olympism”: respect for human dignity and press freedom, and a rejection of “any form of discrimination.” But the I.O.C. under Mr. Rogge has failed to enforce its own rules.
     ...Starting in 2008, Human Rights Watch has documented myriad Russian abuses associated with preparation for the Olympics. These include government harassment and intimidation of activists and journalists, abuses of migrant workers from the former Soviet bloc who are building all the major Olympic venues (including the media center) and forced evictions of some families without compensation. Some migrant workers who tried to complain have been detained.
    Over the past year, Russia has also introduced repressive laws targeting certain nonprofit organizations as “foreign agents.” With raids, threats and intimidation, the crackdown has been the most severe of its kind in the post-Soviet era. Central to this campaign is a new law targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. All these efforts are at odds with the Olympic ideal, as expressed in its charter, of “promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.” Russian authorities are apparently counting on the I.O.C. to keep quiet again.
     ...There is no reason the new I.O.C. president could not issue a mandate to strictly assess the human rights records of bidding countries and monitor a selected host country’s progress toward improving that record.
     ...To date, only one candidate [running for IOC president], the financier Richard Carrión of Puerto Rico, has forcefully condemned Russia’s discriminatory laws and environment.

     The election is not designed for serious reform.
     Thus whoever is elected cannot be counted on to make the necessary changes himself without pressure from outside... Unless sponsors and franchise-holders like NBC, Coca-Cola, G.E., McDonalds and Visa want to risk being associated with an officially homophobic Olympics, they must find their voices — before the next I.O.C. head is anointed.

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