Rights group praises IOC on human rights clause

LONDON (AP) It's not every day that the International Olympic Committee receives kudos from human rights groups.

Human Rights Watch, however, is commending the IOC for including a new clause on human rights protection in the contract for future host cities, and urging FIFA and other sports bodies to follow suit.

The IOC had already added new language on non-discrimination in the host city contract, a move prompted by the international outcry over the law prohibiting gay ''propaganda'' enacted by Russia before the Sochi Winter Games in February.

Now, HRW is praising the IOC for including a clause on respecting international standards on labor and environment rights related to the Olympics.

Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at HRW, tweeted: ''Gold Medal to IOC (and) Thomas Bach for putting human rights in Host City Contracts.''

The contract binds the host city and local organizers to ''carry out their obligations and activities ... in a manner which embraces the concept of sustainable development, and which serves to promote the protection of the environment.''

The clause says the host city ''shall take all necessary measures to ensure that development projects necessary for the organization of the games comply with local, regional and national legislation and international agreements and protocols, applicable in the host country with regard to planning, construction, protection of the environment, health and safety and labor laws.''

The IOC met with HRW officials in Switzerland on Wednesday to discuss the inclusion of human rights protection in the contract.

''For years, repressive governments have brazenly broken the Olympic Charter and the promises they made to host the Olympics,'' Worden said in a statement. ''This reform should give teeth to the lofty Olympic language that sport can be `a force for good.'''

The new clause is included in the host city contract for the 2022 Winter Games. Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan, are the only two candidates left in the race following withdrawals, most recently by Oslo.

Human rights issues in China and Kazakhstan make it important for the IOC to implement the new language, Worden said.

She called on FIFA to apply similar human rights protection for the World Cup and other federations to do the same, including organizers of next year's inaugural European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan.

''This is a sign of changing times in global sport,'' Worden said. ''FIFA and other international sports federations should immediately follow the IOC's lead.''

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Follow Stephen Wilson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/stevewilsonap

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