The IOC Needs a New Olympic Playbook after Russia Winter Games Debacle | Human Rights Watch

HRW_Sochi2014_638x636That sport and politics cannot be separated seems truer than ever. Olympic history over the last century – from the Berlin Games in 1936 to the Beijing Games in 2008 – reveals that mega-sporting events are rarely apolitical. Sports people, politicians and sadly even terrorists have for decades used the platform offered by top-quality sport to score political points.Yet in today’s networked world, this process is accelerated. In the human rights field, we are sometimes accused of ‘politicising’ the Olympics with our research and advocacy on behalf of migrant workers, local residents, and local activists in Sochi who have faced abuses and harsh repression. In reality, it’s the Kremlin playing the political and nationalist card with Russian President Vladimir Putin openly stating his hope that the hosting of the games will project a new image of Russia around the world. Yet such prestige does not come without responsibilities to host fair-play games in a political and human rights context that is also fair.This is not just our view. The Russian government had the power and the obligation to ensure from the outset that construction workers were paid and treated properly; that homes in Sochi were not knocked down without the residents being compensated fairly; that the local environment was not damaged and that activists and reporters were not harassed for peaceful criticism. The Russian authorities’ decision not to do so has led to an avalanche of negative global media coverage, protests from those affected and from civil society and international diplomatic pressure. via The IOC Needs a New Olympic Playbook after Russia Winter Games Debacle | Human Rights Watch.

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