IOC add anti-discrimination clause for host cities after Sochi 2014 gay rights row
A non-discrimination clause has been added by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to its Host City contract for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, just months after global protests over Russia’s anti-gay law cast a shadow on Sochi 2014.
Based on Principle six of the Olympic Charter, it prohibits “any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise”.
In a letter to the three 2022 bid cities, Olympic Games Executive Director Christopher Dubi said the changes are “the result of the experience gained by the IOC in previous editions of the Olympic Games”.
The build-to February’s Winter Olympics was dominated by controversy over a law banning the “propoganda of non-traditional sexual relations”, which was was introduced into the Duma – the Lower House of Russian Parliament.
It sparked protests in Russia and in countries across the globe.
The IOC played down the prospect of gay rights issues overshadowing the Games but did introduce designated “protest zones”.
A number of politicians and sports stars boycotted the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games, with the United States sending three openly gay figures in former tennis player Billie Jean King, two-time Olympic ice hockey medallist Caitlin Cahow and ex-Olympic skating champion Brian Boitano.
Ahead of the Games, IOC President Thomas Bach criticised political leaders who were using them “as a stage for political dissent or for trying to score points in internal or external political contests”.
Campaign group All Out has welcomed the additions to the Host City contract.
In April, more than 80,000 of its members called on the IOC to add a human rights provision to the contract in an open letter to President Bach.
The organisation also launched the Principle 6 campaign last year alongside group Athlete Ally “to highlight the Olympic principle of non-discrimination and give athletes and fans a way to speak out against Russia’s anti-gay laws before and during the Games”.
“This is a significant step in ensuring the protection of both citizens and athletes around the world and 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.
“This is a particularly important moment for the world’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens who face discrimination and persecution not only in Russia but in countries all over the world.
“We will continue working to make sure this change is powerfully enforced – these new rules must prevent a replay of Sochi.”
Three cities – Kazakhstan’s largest city Almaty, Chinese capital Beijing and Norwegian capital Oslo – are bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The winning bid is due to be announced at the IOC Session in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on July 31.
The IOC’s non-discrimination clause in full reads: “Whereas the city and the NOC [National Olympic Committee] acknowledge and accept the importance of the Games and the value of the Olympic image, and agree 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.”