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Interational Olympics Committe introduces antidiscrimination clause; Kazakhstan is bidding to host 2022 Olympics

10 november 2014, 10:32
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Dachhiri Dawa Sherpa of Nepal takes part in a cross-country training session for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games in Rosa Khutor on February 9, 2014. ©REUTERS/STEFAN WERMUTH
Dachhiri Dawa Sherpa of Nepal takes part in a cross-country training session for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games in Rosa Khutor on February 9, 2014. ©REUTERS/STEFAN WERMUTH

The International Olympics Committee has introduced an antidiscrimination clause into host city contracts to the welcome of human rights organizations and activists, Tengrinews reports.

The 2022 Winter Olympics are the first Games for which this clause will come into force. Incidentally, these are the Games Kazakhstan's Almaty is bidding to host. The other contender wishing to host the event is Chinese Beijing. This means that Kazakhstan and China will have their human rights track put into spotlight ahead of the event.

The new clause going under point L. in the Draft Host City Contract 2022 as obtained by the Norwegian media outlet VG, demands the host city “to conduct all activities in a manner which promotes and enhances the fundamental principles and values of Olympism, in particular the prohibition of any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise, as well as the development of the Olympic Movement.”

Human rights organizations have enthusiastically welcomed the new amendment. “Some countries try to use the prestige of mega-sporting events to cover up their poor human rights records, so banning discrimination in host city contracts could have wide-ranging, positive effects,” Minky Worden, director of global initiatives of Human Rrights Watch was quoted by the organization as saying.

Human Rights Watch says that the new amendment is one of the institutional changes advised to IOC by human rights organizations. It called the clause a “warning” to Saudi Arabia, where girls cannot attend sport activities in state schools, and a “rebuke” to Russia with its “discriminatory" gay propaganda law.

Thus, the executive director of All Out Andre Banks said that the clause “sends a clear message to future host cities that human rights violations, including those against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, will not be tolerated", Reuters reports.

Kazakhstan has no ban on women attending sport in schools or anywhere. In fact, there are many prominent female athletes famous across Kazakhstan and internationally, such as sprinter Olga Shishigina, track and field athlete Olga Rypakova and tennis player Zarina Diyas.

As for the situation of sexual minorities, Kazakhstan has no law explicitly prohibiting same sex relations or discriminating against LGBT community. This, however, does not fully reflect the attitude towards sexual minorities in Kazakhstan and there were, in fact, proposals for a new law similar to the one in Russia that would ban “gay propaganda”.

A standing out case involving an advertising agency that used images of two men kissing and is now facing bankruptcy for this poster shows that the question of sexual orientation remains a contentious issue in Kazakhstan.

The Criminal Code of Kazakhstan criminalized homosexuality until 1997 so the attitude is still part of the nation's mentality. 

Kazakhstan has no legislation explicitly discriminatory against sexual minorities as of today, and maybe won't have it until 2022 since the Olympic Committee has the antidiscrimination clause in its contract with host cities now.

However many question its efficiency. Then what exactly does the new clause of the IOC demand? Calling to respect human rights and freedoms is all good but the amendment seems to be vague and too general.

Human Rights Watch also said that this is only a step forward and much else needs to be done “But, of course, this should be the first of many steps toward ensuring that future host cities fully respect human dignity, as the Olympic Charter requires,” Worden said.

Still, Worden believes that IOC’s initiative sends a clear message to all mega-sporting events, such as the FIFA, that discrimination has no place in sports and that all countries need to “clean up” their human rights track if they want to host such high-profile sport events.

By Dinara Urazova


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