Major sporting events

Human rights organizations and other NGOs, media, unions have reported human rights abuses caused by the impacts of massive infrastructure projects carried out in preparation for major sporting events, such as the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games.  Many of these allegations involve abuses committed by or with the complicity of private companies. But major sporting events do provide also opportunities to push for change. This page features some of the main developments and coverage on human rights related to major recent or future sporting events in countries such as Azerbaijan, Brazil, Qatar, Russia and Japan, highlighting the role and responsibilities of companies operating there.

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Olympics   World Cup   European Games    Commonwealth Games    Formula One


Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics and Paralympic Winter Games

Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympic Summer Games

Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games and 2014 World Cup

Sochi 2014 Olympic Games and Paralympic Winter Games

FIFA World Cup

Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup

Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup

European Games

Baku 2015 European Games

Minsk 2019 European Games

Commonwealth Games

Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 2018

Formula One

Formula One 2017 (USA, Mexico, Brazil, UAE)

Formula One 2018 (Australia, China, Bahrain, Azerbaijan)

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Related stories and components

4 November 2019

Dutch football club Ajax under fire for Qatar training camp; includes company comments

Author: Dutch News

"Human rights groups call on Ajax shareholders to question trip to Qatar," 30 Oct 2019...

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16 October 2019

Qatar: Unexplained death of World Cup stadium worker one of hundreds dismissed as "natural" by authorities

On 23 June Rubchandra Rumba, a Nepali labourer working on a football stadium for the World Cup 2022, died during his sleep. His death was attributed to "acute cardio respiratory failure due to natural cause[s]”; one of many such deaths recorded as ...

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14 October 2019

Qatar: Guardian investigation finds that migrant workers continue to die from ‘heat stress’, fatalies not adequately investigated by govt.

In October 2019 a Guardian investigation into working conditions for migrant workers in Qatar found that hundreds of labourers are estimated to be dying from 'heat stress' every year. ...

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10 June 2019

Japan: Human rights group asks for worker safety investigation at Tokyo Olympics venues

Author: The Washington Post (US)

“Rights group asks for worker-safety probe at Tokyo Olympics”, 5 June 2019...

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26 November 2018

Commentary on sport & human rights highlights need for a focus on major sporting events & day-to-day practice by grassroots players

Author: Steve Gibbon, Ergon Associates

Much of what has been written and said about sport in the world of business and human rights has tended to focus on Mega Sporting Events, in particular [...] the Olympic and Paralympic games in Beijing, London Rio, the Winter games in Sochi and FIFA...

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12 June 2018

Briefing reviews measures taken by sponsors of the Swedish Football Association to address human rights risks associated with 2018 FIFA World Cup

Swedwatch's latest briefing "The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia: Sponsorship and human rights" focuses on the role of corporate sponsors in addressing human rights risks associated with major sporting events. It highlights measures taken by sponsors of...

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16 May 2018

Russia: Human Rights Watch & other NGOs call upon FIFA to engage with authorities on persecution of human rights defenders

Author: Human Rights Watch, Front Line Defenders, Amnesty Int'l & 11 other NGOs

"Joint Letter to FIFA Concerning the Human Rights Crisis in Chechnya", 16 May 2018...

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23 April 2018

Russia: Human Rights Watch praises FIFA for supporting activist documenting abuses related to 2018 World Cup, but says it could do more; includes comments by FIFA

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23 April 2018

Welcome support for workers’ rights advocate in Russia

Author: Jane Buchanan, Human Rights Watch

Last week was my first time in a Russian appeals courtroom. I and a colleague were there to support Semyon Simonov, a Russian human rights defender, who is taking a case against police for misconduct. Simonov had worked with Human Rights Watch to...

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Company response
22 April 2018

Response by FIFA

Author: FIFA

FIFA welcomes the acknowledgement by Human Rights Watch of FIFA’s efforts in support of Semyon Simonov. These activities are a reflection of FIFA’s belief that all those who advocate for human rights to be upheld need to be able to do so freely and...

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