How can the bidding, planning and delivery processes for MSEs more effectively protect and promote the rights of affected groups, reducing inequality, enhancing diversity and facilitating meaningful dialogue between the stakeholders?
How can an appropriate suite of research methods to help better understand the impact of MSEs on human rights be developed and utilised to create the conditions for change?
Major sporting events (MSEs) have been the subject of increasing levels of critique in recent years for the social costs associated with their bidding, planning and delivery. The rationale used by cities and countries for hosting MSEs is often the potential for an event to generate positive economic and social transformation within the host area (Brittain, Bocarro, Byers and Swart, 2017).
However, research has repeatedly demonstrated actual impacts of hosting MSEs fall short of these lofty claims and in reality often result in detrimental effects for host populations. The negative impacts of MSEs have variously been reported as: exacerbating human rights abuses; facilitating corruption; supporting elite beneficiaries over those most in need; and transforming host destinations’ urban environment by displacing vulnerable populations.
Recent mega sport events (a specific category of the largest MSEs, such as the Olympic Games and World Cup; Muller, 2015) have been the subject of international condemnation for being the catalyst for forced evictions (Beijing 2008; Rio de Janeiro, 2016), restricting media freedom through censorship (Sochi, 2014), abuse of migrant labour in the construction of facilities (Sochi, 2014; Qatar, 2022) and increased political repression (Beijing, 2008).
Human Rights Watch has suggested that “Time after time, Olympic hosts have gotten away with abusing workers building stadiums, and with crushing critics and media who try to report about abuses…the right to host the Olympics needs to come with the responsibility not to abuse basic human rights” (Minky Worden, Director of Global Initiatives, HRW).
The EventRights project will explore and produce recommendations as to how MSEs can influence MSE organizing committees and other stakeholders to ensure that progressive social opportunities to address inequality, enhance diversity. Based on gaps in the current body of knowledge (e.g. Misener et al., 2015) that have prevented a rich understanding of how processes within the bidding, planning and delivery of MSEs can improve social outcomes and taking into consideration the policy and practice priorities of the EU.