From the European Games to Formula 1: how sporting events are ignoring human rights

Author: Phil Bloomer, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre on the Guardian, Published on: 14 July 2015

At the European Games in June, the president of Azerbaijan squeezed onto the podium with compatriot Ilham Zakiyev, the judo gold medal winner, for a photo that ended up in news around the world... What are the implications for this sort of international publicity? As one of Azerbaijan’s few remaining human rights activists (who spoke on condition of anonymity) put it: “The European Games are a major PR effort by the Azeri Government to put image over reality. The reality is that independent minds in our country are dying.”... A number of big businesses in Azerbaijan, both domestic and international, appear to be taking advantage of this repression... It’s time for Formula 1, Fifa, the International Olympic Committee and their big-brand corporate sponsors to decide whether they want global sport to be associated with human rights violations, or with the core values that the global public naturally associate with sport.

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