Olympics

New Olympic Reforms Announced, Host Nations Still Screwed

Folks, the Olympics are bad

Olympics
AFP/Getty Images
Feb 28, 2017 at 11:39 AM ET

The International Olympic Committee is getting serious about human rights violations. Really serious. So much so that upcoming host cities and nations will be a shining beacon for all that is good and pure. How did the IOC rid the Olympics of not just the human rights abuses that marred the games in Rio de Janeiro and Sochi and London and Beijing plus the widespread corruption, devastation of the local economy, and damage to the environment?

Simple, they made a few small changes to the IOC charter in conjunction with a passel of human rights organizations, transparency advocates, and international trade unions, all of whom are just tickled pink.

Take it away, Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation general secretary.

“This is an important step by the IOC for the future,” Burrow said in a statement. “Implementing the UN Guiding Principles across all major global sporting events could help break the cycle of human rights abuses, and this example from the IOC should be applied to all such events, starting now.”

Uh huh. None of this will kick in before 2024, mind you, which means the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, a nation cited by Amnesty International for its abuses of migrant workers, restrictions on freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and still in the throes of an ongoing corruption scandal, will go forth as planned. Same goes for the 2020 Games in Tokyo and the 2022 Games in freaking Beijing.

Via Human Rights Watch, let’s explore some of the new, glorious rules. For starters, to be deemed Olympic-worthy, future hosts must “respect” the Olympic charter and promote “the fundamental principles and values of Olympism.” That is a meaningless collections of words.

But wait. Here’s where they get to brass tacks. An Olympic host now must:

a. prohibit any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status;

b. protect and respect human rights and ensure any violation of human rights is remedied in a manner consistent with international agreements, laws and regulations applicable in the Host Country and in a manner consistent with all internationally-recognised human rights standards and principles, including the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, applicable in the Host Country; and

c. refrain from any act involving fraud or corruption, in a manner consistent with any international agreements, laws and regulations applicable in the Host Country and all internationally-recognised anti-corruption standards applicable in the Host Country, including by establishing and maintaining effective reporting and compliance.

Sounds good! But the IOC and host have to come up with a vague, unspecified “reporting mechanism” to show that they’re in compliance and that the construction of all the venues and facilities doesn’t ravage the environment and the economy, which it always does. And yet, they fail to lay out exactly how any of this will be enforced.

Does the IOC have the ability to levy retroactive fines, claw back Olympic dollars, or demand legislative and even constitutional amendments (ha!) prior to choosing a host city? No. Aside from language codifying their demands, neither the IOC nor the human rights groups outlined how this radically differs from the Agenda 2020 reforms, which insisted upon “Sustainable Human and Environmental Development” as part any contract agreement. They’re more or less saying, “you have to do this, or we’ll take no action at all.”

Lest you labor under the delusion that the potential 2024 Summer Olympic sites, Paris and Los Angeles, have rendered these questions moot, read Human Rights Watch on the expanding police state in France following recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Nice. As for the United States, we’re probably fucked and Russia’s got its eye on the 2028 Games.

In conclusion, mega-sporting events like the Olympics have always been bad and will remain bad forevermore.