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The International Olympic Committee Set to Continue Kowtowing to Russia with Another Misleading Ban

Yesterday in Mumbai, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) would be immediately banned for breaching the Olympic Charter due to violating the territorial integrity of the NOC of Ukraine. This ban is both deceptive and ineffectual, as the sole punitive measure that could truly bridle Russia, its ongoing aggression and its broader geopolitical strategies remains to be ‘decided’ – whether Russian and Belarusian athletes will compete at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. However, the IOC has already made clear, through its statements and actions, that a decision has already been contrived to welcome these athletes to Paris.

If the IOC follows through, it will be another devastating blow to human rights, to the national sovereignty of Ukraine, and to the accountability of Russian and Belarusian war crimes. The decision will also be another indication of the IOC’s misplaced allegiances, highlighting that those who wield power inside the IOC are subservient to Russia. While athletes worldwide, along with numerous governments, have consistently demanded that the outright ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes remain in place until Russia fully withdraws from Ukraine, the IOC is instead set to bow to Russian demands – leaving athletes and activists with the responsibility to counter Putin’s use of sport in his propaganda machine.

Under the leadership of President Thomas Bach, the IOC has consistently presented a misleading image of its efforts to enforce accountability on Russia. Yesterday’s suspension of the ROC follows a pattern of past ‘sanctions’ that have falsely conveyed to the public that adequate actions are being taken. The suspension of the ROC guilefully provides a façade under which the IOC can welcome Russian and Belarusian athletes, masked as neutrals, all the while maintaining a delicate balance with the influential Russian entities that hold sway over Bach and the organization.

The conditions for such a move are already at play - the recommendations outlined by the IOC which gave International Federations the green light to welcome Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in international events are likely to be the same criteria for participation at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. While these conditions are meant to curb Russia’s ability to use sport to advance its geopolitical agenda, they do not achieve this goal. They are unworkable and ineffective, but they do show that the IOC itself understands the power Putin will gain from the success of Russian athletes:

Condition 1: “Teams of athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport cannot be considered.”

This condition highlights that the IOC understands that a Russian team is a tool of Putin’s propaganda machine. Yet, an individual athlete or “team” of individual Russian athletes will be utilised in the same way—regardless of any “neutral” status or the removal of flags, anthems, colours, and country identifications.

Condition 2: “Athletes who are contracted to the Russian or Belarusian military or national security agencies cannot compete.”

This condition envisions a fantasy world in which a master list of every member of the Russian and Belarusian armed forces is available for all to see. The Russian sporting agencies, as extensions of the Russian State, are expert at “complying” with such quasi-legal rules while manipulating them to serve their own interests. Promulgating such a rule simply gives the Russian government a roadmap for how to make all Russian athletes eligible to compete.

Condition 3: “Athletes who actively support the war cannot compete.”

This condition is neither workable nor effective. First, it is impossible to identify which athletes actively support the war – any athlete who wishes to compete will simply stay silent in public. Due to the sheer number of athletes, it would be nearly impossible for sporting organizations to identify all athletes who have supported the war in the past. More importantly, even if the IOC could ensure that no athlete on the Russian team supports the war, the Russian team itself can still be used in war propaganda. Athletes do not have control over how their success is portrayed to the public.

Condition 4: “Athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport must compete only as Individual Neutral Athletes.”

The IOC continues to claim that there is such a thing as a neutral athlete at the Olympic Games, an event where every athlete is defined as a representative of a country. In four consecutive Games, we have seen a “neutral” Russian team wholly identified with the Russian State, which in turn was used to advance its interests.

If the IOC follows through and reinstates Russian and Belarusian athletes for Paris 2024, the Games will not be a demonstration of the world’s ability to come together amidst division. Rather, it will be a platform for Putin to celebrate his war and advance his agenda.

The IOC may continue to favour the man responsible for destroying Ukraine, but we stand united with our Ukrainian athletes and the belief that collective athlete power and allyship can still influence history, as it did before the commencement of the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Games. There, an athlete uprising forced sport administrators to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from the Games. The same can be true again.

WADA shares outcomes from first meeting of the Athlete Advisory Group on Human Rights in Anti-Doping

WADA shares outcomes from first meeting of the Athlete Advisory Group on Human Rights in Anti-Doping

Today, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is pleased to share outcomes from July’s inaugural meeting of its Athlete Advisory Group on Human Rights in Anti-Doping (Advisory Group), which is made up of members of WADA’s Athlete Council

An Initial Human Rights Impact Assessment (IHRIA) was first proposed by WADA’s Athlete Committee in 2021 (now known as the Athlete Council) with the objective of ensuring that WADA respects and protects the universally recognized human rights of athletes as it leads a global collaborative mission for doping-free sport.  

In November 2022, WADA’s Executive Committee (ExCo) confirmed the appointment of Senior Independent Expert, Ms. Snežana Samardžić-Marković, to lead an IHRIA to evaluate the intersection between the World Anti-Doping Program (Program) and the human rights of athletes; and, in March 2023, WADA announced that it had begun the work. 

In July, the Advisory Group held its first meeting, which focused on several topics connected to the IHRIA, including: 

  • Gaining a deeper understanding of the United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGP) on Business and Human Rights, which serve as the benchmark for the IHRIA; 

  • Sharing personal experiences or knowledge through stories that illustrated the situations where individual human rights were tested; 

  • Discussing ways to solve important strategic dilemmas, to identify and prioritize potential human rights infringements; and 

  • Emphasizing communication as one of the essential aspects of the Group's efforts. 

Ms. Samardžić-Marković said: "I am delighted that the Athlete Advisory Group on Human Rights in Anti-Doping convened and that we had valuable discussions about the UNGPs on Business and Human Rights. The personal stories shared during the meeting shed light on potential adverse impacts on athletes' human rights, reinforcing the importance of our work

In our discussions, we also addressed the Advisory Group's role in the Initial Human Rights Impact Assessment process and the strategic challenges that lie ahead. I am impressed by the dedication and expertise of the Group members, and I feel assured of their strong commitment to human rights and their support for the ongoing assessment. Together, we are taking significant steps to ensure that human rights remain a priority in anti-doping, and I look forward to continuing this essential work with the guidance and support of this remarkable group." 

Athlete Council Chair and ExCo member, Ryan Pini, said: “The first meeting of the Athlete Advisory Group on Human Rights in Anti-Doping resulted in thoughtful, meaningful and productive discussions that have laid the foundation for the Group’s future successes. The Group's examination of various aspects of the anti-doping system such as public disclosure, strict liability of athletes and the professionalization of the fight against doping in sport has led to important insights. This first meeting highlighted the necessity to focus on discussing human rights in the context of anti-doping efforts, which we intend on doing in the months and years to come

As a new body resulting from governance reform, WADA’s Athlete Council holds a special responsibility to address the challenges identified by the Athlete Advisory Group on Human Rights in Anti-Doping. We have high expectations for what this Group of representatives can achieve for athletes around the world, and we will strive to enhance athletes' involvement and ensure their voices are heard in shaping anti-doping policy.” 

The next meeting of the Advisory Group is scheduled to take place in September 2023, which will particularly focus on the most salient activities at risk to cause or contribute to adverse human rights impact. The Group will also discuss initial recommendations on how to prevent or mitigate these risks. 

World Players: IOC's call with Peng Shuai exacerbates alarm, special delegation needed

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In the wake of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai's call with International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach, the World Players Association has released the following statement:

The World Players Association repeats its call for the urgent establishment of a special delegation of international organizations and human rights experts to meet with Peng Shuai in order to ensure and obtain the necessary guarantees for her rights, health and safety.

China cuts NBA broadcasts after Boston Celtic Enes Kanter called for Tibetan independence

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China has removed broadcasts of NBA games after Boston Celtics player Enes Kanter called for China to give Tibet independence.

Kanter posted a video in which he said “Brutal dictator of China, Xi Jinping, I have a message for you and your henchmen. Under the Chinese government's brutal rule, Tibetan people's basic rights and freedoms are non-existent.” Following the video being posted Chinese platform Tencent cut the broadcast of the Celtics game against the New York Knicks.

PHF updates transgender and non-binary inclusion policy

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Policy Enhanced in Partnership with Athlete Ally and Chris Mosier

October 15, 2021 (Brooklyn, N.Y.) - The Premier Hockey Federation today announced an updated Transgender and Non-Binary Inclusion Policy that is effective immediately for the 2021-22 season. The federation’s policy was enhanced with consultation from Athlete Ally, a non-profit LGBTQI+ athletic advocacy group focused on making athletic communities more inclusive and less discriminatory, and Chris Mosier, a transgender hall of fame triathlete, All-American duathlete, 6-time member of Team USA, and the founder of TransAthlete.com.

IOC supports the calls for a wider consultation on FIFA’s World Cup plans and shares concerns

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The Executive Board (EB) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) takes note of FIFA’s plans to change the football competition schedule and to hold the World Cup every two years. A number of International Federations (IFs) of other sports, national football federations, clubs, players, players associations and coaches have expressed strong reservations and concerns regarding the plans to generate more revenue for FIFA, mainly for the following reasons:

Afghan women cyclists brought to safety in Europe cpa cycling

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We are delighted to share the following Road to Equality press release from the Association of the Italian Professional Cyclists ACCPI.

A small group of Afghan women cyclists has managed to reach Italy on board a C-130 of the Italian Air Force that landed at Fiumicino (Rome) on 27th August. Six athletes are currently observing the required quarantine, alongside a male athlete and several family members. Joy, but also concern about those who are haven’t yet been able to leave Afghanistan.

EFL releases League-wide anti-discrimination video

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The EFL has produced a League-wide anti-discrimination video as part of its ‘Together Against Discrimination’ campaign, which calls on all in stadiums to call out abuse, report discrimination and to respect players and one another.

OFC have taken the pledge to improving safeguarding for all across Oceania

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August 8 marks international Safer Sport Day and OFC are joining International Safeguards for Children in Sport in their aim to raise awareness of safeguarding.

There are eight safeguards that should be in place by any organisation working with children in sport while encouraging organisations to “take the pledge” and commit to improving safeguarding in their organisation.

IOC launches investigation into case of Belarusian sprinter

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The International Olympic Committee has launched a formal investigation into the National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Belarus (NOCRB) after sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya alleged officials from the country had taken her to the airport against her will.

Tsimanouskaya took refuge in the Polish embassy in Tokyo on Monday, a day after refusing her team’s orders to board a flight home from the Olympic Games. Warsaw has offered her a humanitarian visa.

The Olympic Council of Asia Openly Threatens and Silences Athletes

With less than a week before the start of the Asian Games in China, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) has publicly threatened athletes with the removal of accreditation should they decide to exercise their fundamental right to freedom of expression.

The OCA’s archaic approach to limiting athletes’ rights to freedom of expression is a clear demonstration that sport systems continue to believe they can operate in silo without adherence to globally accepted human rights. This decision from the OCA appears to favour China’s authoritarian rule of law that rejects freedom of expression over every athlete’s civil liberties.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “everyone has the right to freedom of expression; this right includes freedom to impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” The Asian Games is a media of communication to the world, and the organisation’s leadership cannot be a barrier to human rights.

Global Athlete hopes every athlete attending the Asian Games uses the United Nations Human Rights Declaration to guide their decision on when and where to exercise their right to stand up for social and racial injustices that they wish to support. Outdated “sport rules” should never supersede basic human rights.

If athletes want to speak up – in a way that respects the rights and freedoms of others as detailed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the sport community should embrace their diverse opinions. Silencing athletes should never be tolerated, and to threaten them with removal from the Asian Games highlights the imbalance of power between sport leaders and athletes.

Silencing the athlete voice within sporting organisations has led to oppression, discrimination, and abuse of athletes – restricting their basic human rights has, and will, do the same.

World Athletics adopts new rules for Athletes' Representatives and Safeguarding

World Athletics adopts new rules for Athletes' Representatives and Safeguarding

World Athletics will introduce a centralised licensing system for Athletes’ Representatives from 1 September 2023 after the regulatory framework was approved by the World Athletics Council this week.

The new system will set global minimum standards for becoming an Athletes’ Representative (AR) and maintaining a licence to act on behalf of athletes for any competition.

Under the new system, Member Federations (MFs) will not be permitted to regulate World Athletics ARs or charge any fees to them. If MFs wish to implement a framework to regulate ARs, they will only be permitted to regulate matters falling within their national jurisdiction but must meet the minimum standards of the World Athletics framework.

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said: “We have consulted with ARs and athletes around the current system, examining the practical realities faced by ARs and athletes working within the global athletics market and we believe a centralised system which sets minimum professional standards and provides ongoing professional development will lead to a better outcome for both athletes and agents.”

The new rules will introduce eligibility criteria to become an AR, which will apply equally on a global basis. Individuals who apply will be subject to a vetting and exam process.

The vetting requirements will be similar to those required to become a World Athletics official, but will also include specific requirements related to the duties of an AR. A new World Athletics Athletes’ Representative Panel will conduct the vetting.

The AR exam will contain essential subjects for acting as a sports agent including ethical compliance and safeguarding.

To maintain a licence an AR must pay an annual licence fee (to cover costs incurred by World Athletics), maintain professional indemnity insurance, and complete a minimum amount of continuing professional development.

World Athletics will establish an online portal to facilitate the licensing process and also plans to provide education to athletes on matters such as the meaning of their contracts, appropriate levels of payment/commissions and introductory information for emerging athletes on becoming an elite athlete.

The maximum amount of time that an athlete and AR may enter into an agreement will be two years, which can be extended for one-year periods. Athletes are also allowed to represent themselves.

Safeguarding

The World Athletics Council also approved new Safeguarding Rules to guard against abuse, harassment or exploitation by World Athletics officials or which may occur at a World Athletics Series event or Congress. In exceptional cases, these rules will also apply to MF officials.

These new Rules give World Athletics the power to make orders imposing safeguards, limitations and restrictions on certain individuals, in order for World Athletics to ensure that safe, happy and positive environments are created for everyone involved in athletics and that all involved are treated with dignity and respect.

An independent Case Management Group will be appointed to make decisions in relation to safeguarding concerns which are investigated by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU).

The role of the Case Management Group will be to review investigations by the AIU, assess risk and make orders relating to safeguards, limitations, restrictions, sanctions and other matters.

MFs and Area Associations must comply with the World Athletics Safeguarding Policy.

MFs are responsible for managing reports of abuse, harassment and exploitation in their own countries and dealing with safeguarding concerns relating to MF officials, athletes and athlete supporting personnel under their jurisdiction. All MFs are required to adopt and implement procedures for the investigation and prosecution of reported safeguarding concerns in their territories.

Area Associations are responsible for managing reports relating to their staff, officials or volunteers, accredited persons at their events and competitions and participants in activities hosted at Area Development Centres.

The AIU Board will have absolute discretion to decide whether to pursue a matter, taking into account the seriousness of the conduct in question and the other circumstances of the case.

Human Rights

As part of World Athletics’ Human Rights Strategy, human rights considerations have been rolled into the Safeguarding Essentials E-Learning course, which is now available on the World Athletics website.

The focus of the course is to prevent abuse, harassment and exploitation of everyone in athletics, however their involvement and whatever their age.

Furthermore, the appointment process for the new Executive Board and the Risk Committee references human rights expertise as one of the desired qualifications of nominees, and the new Board and new Committee will review the need for other human rights considerations to be included in their terms of reference.

Human rights considerations will also continue to be factored into amendments to new rules and regulations. A report on human rights has been included in the Annual Council Report which will be presented to the World Athletics Congress this week.

Another 57 people linked to football and sport evacuated from Afghanistan

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Following another round of complex negotiations, FIFA can confirm that it has supported Qatar with the evacuation from Afghanistan of a second group of refugees linked to women’s football and basketball. A total of 57 individuals, mostly women and children, safely landed in Doha on Wednesday, 20 October, on a Qatar Airways charter flight. Last Thursday, 14 October, FIFA and Qatar successfully evacuated almost 100 members of the football family from Afghanistan to Doha, including female players. FIFA would like to express its sincere thanks to the government of Qatar for its support in facilitating extensive discussions and ensuring the safe passage of these individuals, deemed to have been at the highest risk.

The UCI supports Afghan cycling community and helps with the evacuation of 165 refugees

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The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and its partners have lent their support and help to the Afghan Cycling Federation. After the events which occurred in the country in August 2021 and the consequences that they have had on certain members of the population, in particular women, the UCI has reached out to members of the cycling family, the Olympic movement and also other members of the population whose lives and safety has been under threat, to enable them to leave Afghan soil.

Álvaro Dionisio on football trafficking in Portugal: 'I was too trusting and they tricked me'

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  • In July 2019 Álvaro Dionisio arrived in Portugal from Argentina, excited at developing his career but after a year he had still not been paid
  • He remained confined to a house for months, with no money, along with about 10 other footballers in the same situation
  • With the help of the Portuguese player union SJPF he decided to take legal action against the club that brought him to Europe

Afghanistan athletes unable to attend Paralympics due to unrest

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Afghanistan’s two Paralympic athletes will not be competing at the Tokyo Games due to the unrest in the country.

Taekwondo competitor Zakia Khudadadi and track athlete Hossain Rasouli were due to arrive in Tokyo for the Games on Tuesday with Khudadadi set to become the first female athlete to represent Afghanistan at the Paralympics.

MENTAL HEALTH DOMINATES THE AGENDA IN URUGUAY

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•Four Uruguayan footballers have taken their own lives in the last six months

•FIFPRO spoke with Diego Scotti, president of MUFP, the country's professional footballers' union

•‘We aim to put tools in the hands of the footballers,’ he says.

Uruguay's football community had not yet fully recovered from the suicide of Santiago ‘Morro’ Garcia in February when another blow was dealt on 17 July: Williams Martinez, a 38-year-old veteran defender who had become a historic symbol of his local league, playing for Villa Teresa in the second division, had also decided to take his own life.

GLOBAL ATHLETE CALLS ON THE INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE TO IMMEDIATELY SUSPEND THE BELARUS NATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE

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2 August 2021: Global Athlete calls on the International Olympic Committee to immediately suspend the Belarus National Olympic Committee and allow all Belarusian athletes to compete as neutral athletes under the Olympic flag. The alleged kidnapping of Belarusian Olympic athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya by the Belarus National Olympic Committee (NOC) is yet another example of the alarming athlete abuse occurring in Belarus.

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