By Dr. Joerg Koenigstorfer

The United States of America will host the Olympic Games in 2028 (Los Angeles). Currently, however, the country is shaken by protests about racial discrimination, and more and more sportsmen and sportswomen make political statements about their view on the topic. Athletes such as Lebron James have publicly raised their voice about their frustration with police violence against African Americans, for example. Even though the U.S.A. have signed and ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), racial discrimination still is a big problem in the country.

Current research conducted by Dr. Joerg Koenigstorfer, Chair of Sport and Health Management, Technical University of Munich, surveyed 724 U.S.A. residents and looked at the role of Olympic Values in the human rights context. These values are excellence, friendship, and respect; they form the base for educating the youth about the idea of the Olympic Movement, initiated by Pierre de Coubertin. But how important are these values when there are important human rights issues, such as racism? The research shows that these values gain importance when people belief that the U.S.A. have not solved their human rights issues adequately (compared to when this is not the case). Also, attitudes toward the event as well as intentions to visit and support the event are lower when human rights issues are salient.

The results are important to the IOC and the Olympic Movement, because they reveal the importance of value perceptions in times of transgressions (which seem to be common in the context of mega-sporting events). Particularly friendship and respect are values that can have positive effects on consumers. Sportsmen and sportswomen might refer to people’s values as well as the values of Olympism when they indent to use sport as a platform for change. The U.S.A. as a host country should aim to fight racism, prevent human rights violations and promote them — before, during, and after the event that will draw the world’s attention onto the country.

Dr. Joerg Koenigstorfer

Professor of Sport and Health Management

Technical University of Munich

80992 Munich