NY Times Op-Ed Highlights The IOC’s Leadership Deficit

RingsIn an Op-Ed piece published earlier this week, The New York Times highlights an important upcoming election that few know about but nonetheless has the potential to impact many: the election of a new president of the International Olympic Committee. The September vote will be the first in 12 years and may in fact be, "the last chance
for many years to reform the committee’s approach to repressive
governments that seek to host the [Olympic] games." The author of the article, Human Rights Watch's Minky Worden, argues that "It is imperative that the
committee elect a president willing to lead, not cave in, on this issue." Current IOC President Jacques Rogge has not left behind a sterling legacy when it comes to the IOC's commitment to human rights let alone its own charter:

12-year term of the current president, Jacques Rogge of Belgium, will
be remembered in large part for the glaring contradiction between the
I.O.C.’s explicit vision of its lofty role in the world (as outlined in
the rules and guidelines of its charter) and the fact that Mr. Rogge has
been responsible for two Olympics with extensive human rights
violations: the 2008 summer games in Beijing and the 2014 winter games
in Sochi, Russia, which start in less than six months.

host the Olympics, governments and cities pledge not only to build
sparkling new stadiums but also to uphold the I.O.C.’s “Fundamental
Principles of Olympism”: respect for human dignity and press freedom,
and a rejection of “any form of discrimination.” But the I.O.C. under
Mr. Rogge has failed to enforce its own rules.

2008 Beijing games, which cost an estimated $40 billion, led to a host
of rights violations, including abuses of domestic migrant workers who
were building Olympic infrastructure and a harsh clampdown on civil
society and media, with punishment (including imprisonment) for those
trying to protest.

the I.O.C. is preparing to stage another Olympics in a host country
that almost appears to be taunting organizers and sponsors by flagrantly
flouting its pledge.

Worden also points out that given the IOC's lackluster group of 98 voting members, comprised of "mostly sports federation leaders and members of royal families," only one of whom has criticized Russia's discriminatory laws, it will be up to corporations who have the power of the all mighty dollar behind them to push for change:

another I.O.C. president is selected, the corporate sponsors who make
the Olympics possible should insist that the president enforce the
committee’s own rules about human rights. Unless sponsors and
franchise-holders like NBC, Coca-Cola, G.E., McDonalds and Visa want to
risk being associated with an officially homophobic Olympics, they must
find their voices — before the next I.O.C. head is anointed.


  1. MaryM says

    “it will be up to corporations who have the power of the all mighty dollar behind them to push for change”

    So effecively nothing will change.

    Corporations don’t give a damn about human rights (except bizarrely their own – incredibly they enjoy these in the US).

    It is our duty to make the upcoming Olympics so tainted that it damages the Olympic brand forever.

  2. Phil says

    Wow, what lackluster leadership – rich, unelected royalty from another century leading a modern humanitarian organization: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_members_of_the_International_Olympic_Committee

    I love the one so pretentious that she doesn’t even have a name, just Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal. Oh, and the Princess of Liechtenstein. There’s someone who should be making decisions for the rest of the world’s people.

    Time for major reform of this tired old institution.

  3. Cd in DC says

    one person not heard from, American IOC vice president Anita Lucette DeFrantz, is it possible her sensitivity to human rights has been bent low to her service at the luxe international olympic committee? Let’s ask her as she journeys to Buenos Aires to vote on the next president of the IOC, the last one a marques, current one a count.

  4. Will says

    I am curious which royal said something. Our Dutch King will be resigning his position on the IOC he is the only remaining Dutch delegate I wish he would stay on and help change things a bit.

  5. Graphicjack says

    The Princess Royal is Princess Anne, who sort of makes sense because she participated in the Olympics as an Equestrian. I’m not saying that makes her a great leader or someone who is likely to fight for change, but she may have more right to be tere than some others. Since the royal family just have the stamp of approval to gay marriage in the UK, maybe she’s someone to appeal to… Does anyone from the UK think she could be an ally from the inside, if pressured?

  6. Rick says

    It’s not the IOC’s fault that the Russians were forced to institute reactionary laws in the face of the widespread proliferation of effeminate western gay culture. Russia is a nation with a firm and unwavering understanding of the need for masculinity in men. But the popularized portrayals of gay men in the media favor the effeminate, diva-worshiping creeps that are so palatable to women, who believe gay men to be inferior males.

    By celebrating gay effeminacy, women such as Liberal female lawmakers intend to deny gay men from reaching their full strength and masculine potential. But Russia intends to turn back the clock and restore masculinity and the need for discretion in gay men.

  7. Keith says

    These people are morally spineless, greedy, and self absorbed.

    IOC = spoilt corrupt selfish brats.

    Lots of them come from countries without free elections or civil liberties hence their indifference to Gay rights.

  8. Michael says

    I agree with contacting sponsors and letting Coca Cola know we are against the World Cup in Russia in 2018- there is time to change this location and pull funding. We also need to write to all members on the IOC and push for Carrion’s candidacy as he is in contention for the Presidency and he is against selecting countries that discriminate. Our USOC members also must be aware that this is damaging to athletes as well as to the supporters who wish to attend. They must do more than condemn. They must make an active statement of support for non-discriminatory leaders.

  9. Jay says

    I’ve had it with the NYT. Comments to their site judged by a committee of granola munching old liberals. And don’t be fooled by the gay positive stance.

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