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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12 February 2020

By hosting a grand prix in Saudi Arabia, F1 has "ignored" its human rights commitment, say HRW

Author: Giles Richards, The Guardian (UK)

"F1 risks sportswashing boost with Saudi Arabia GP, says human rights group," 10 Feb 2020...

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12 February 2020

Qatar: Migrant workers on World Cup projects to be reimbursed $30m for recruitment fees

Author: Joseph Varghese, Gulf Times

"Three more stadiums to be launched this year," 10 Feb 2020 About $30mn will be reimbursed by the contractors this year to those workers who had paid recruitment fee in their home countries... “By 2020, about 83% of our workforce will have their recru...

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9 February 2020

Kenya: Increasing number of construction workers recruited "illegally" and abused in Qatar

Author: Omondi Onyatta, The Star (Kenya)

"Kenyans being duped to build stadiums in Qatar - Muhuri," 9 Feb 2020...

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13 January 2020

International coalition urges Amaury Sport Organisation to adopt human rights policy ahead of Saudi-hosted Dakar Rally

Ahead of the 2020 Dakar Rally, hosted in Saudi Arabia 5-17 January, a coalition of 13 international human rights organisations wrote jointly to organiser Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) urging them to speak out about human rights abuses in the host...

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17 December 2019

Qatar: Liverpool FC expresses concern over migrant worker deaths ahead of Club World Cup; FIFA responded

Liverpool Football Club have set out their position regarding well-documented abuses of migrant workers' rights and deaths in Qatar. The statement from Liverpool CEO Peter Moore comes as the team prepare to play in Fifa's Club World Cup, hosted by the...

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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; FIFA responded

On 23 June Rupchandra 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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