7th October 2020
Today the International Olympic Committee (IOC) refused to act against Iran in response to the execution of Iranian Wrestler Navid Afkari. Navid was tortured and murdered for peacefully protesting. He was targeted by the regime because of his high-profile as an athlete.
“The IOC’s failure to stand up for athletes’ human rights – their willingness to stand by while athletes are jailed, tortured, and executed – is a gross abdication of duty. Navid was targeted because he was an athlete. Any semblance of due process or the rule of law was nothing more than a sham. And the IOC turned away, claiming that Navid is not their problem. In doing so, they have sent a message to all athletes that they do not have our backs; they don’t care what happens to us as long as the Games go on and the farce of global unity is preserved.” said two-time Olympian Noah Hoffman, a Global Athlete member.
Over the past month athletes and human rights leaders have campaigned for the international sport community to sanction Iran and other countries who have clearly breached the UN Declaration of Human Rights. The IOC claims to use sport for peace but has failed to act when athletes’ lives have been taken or are at risk.
Athletes, sporting leaders, government, sponsors, and human rights experts can not sit idle. We must collectively stand together to demand that human rights are imbedded into the Olympic Charter. Abuse in sport is rampant and it must come to an end. Only when the IOC adopts a zero-tolerance approach to athlete abuse and embeds human rights into the Olympic charter will they have met their most basic responsibility to care for their athletes.