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17 Aug 2016

Brazil: Concerns around restrictions on freedom of expression during the Olympics, sponsors comment

The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Worldwide Olympic Partners and Rio 2016 Olympic Games Official Sponsors to comment on restrictions on freedom of expression during the Games.  Bridgestone, Coca-Cola, Visa, Dow and Panasonic have responded so far. We will indicate in the coming days if others respond.

In the lead up to the Rio Olympics, communities and workers have raised significant human rights issues. There are now worrying reports of restrictions on freedom of expression during the Games. Sponsors are vital to the operations of sports events such as the Olympic Games. We think it is important the IOC and other stakeholders know the position of sponsors on human rights issues related to the Games.

Rio Olympics 2016, Human Rights, and Freedom of Expression

In monitoring the human rights impacts of the games we have heard worrying reports of restrictions on peaceful protests and freedom of expression. It is alledged that during the Games the right to freedom of expression has been restricted inside and outside the Olympic arenas. On the day of the opening ceremony, military police alledgedly suppressed protests Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo using unnecessary and excessive use of force, using tear gas and pepper spray. Dozens were arrested. Inside the arenas, the Brazilian National Force is alledgedly censoring peaceful protest and videos have emerged of audiance members being removed from stadiums and arenas for wearing T-shirts showing political messages or raising paper signs with printed words that express their disapproval of politicians.

Public authorities have justified these acts by citing the General Olympics Law (Law N. 12.384/2016). Clarifying this law, the federal deputy judge, João Augusto Carneiro de Araújo, ordered Rio 2016 organisers to “refrain immediately” from the repression of peaceful protests, but the International Olympic Committee and the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee have appealed this decision.

For more information on human rights impacts in the lead up to the 2016 Olympics see here.


Company Responses

Bridgestone View Response
Coca-Cola View Response
Visa Group View Response
Dow Chemical View Response
Panasonic View Response