Olympics: Open Letter to Lord Coe & IOC
Call for all nations to sign equality pledge - or face ban
18 July 2012
Dear Lord Coe and Jacques Rogge,
IOC & LOCOG urged to enforce Olympic Charter
The Olympic Charter prohibits all discrimination. It states:
“Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement”
Despite this laudable commitment, many nations deny equal opportunities to women and to ethnic, religious and sexual minorities. They violate the Olympic spirit of equality. This discrimination takes the form of a lack of equal access to sports facilities, competitions and the Olympic selection process.
Some examples include:
The government of Saudi Arabia provides almost no sports facilities for women. It has selected only two token women athletes to compete in the London Olympics - and neither woman actually lives in Saudi Arabia.
Iran practices systematic discrimination against its Kurdish, Arab and Baluch citizens. It holds gender segregated sports competitions and forces female competitors to cover themselves head-to-toe, even if they do not want to. Women athletes are forbidden to have male coaches or to participate in sports that involve physical contact with male sports officials.
India’s dalits (so-called ‘untouchables’) suffer economic and social marginalisation, which means they have little or no hope of developing their sporting talents and securing 2012 selection. They are, in effect, Olympic outcasts.
In over 150 countries, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) athletes are forced to hide their sexuality in order to get selected and compete; otherwise they would be rejected and possibly face imprisonment. In the absence of laws against homophobic discrimination, victimisation and bias against LGBT athletes is endemic in most competing nations.
This social marginalisation and exclusion means that in many countries women and minorities have almost no chance of representing their country at London 2012, no matter how talented they are.
I call on the IOC and LOCOG to enforce the Olympic Charter by:
1. Requiring all competing nations to sign a pledge that they do not discriminate on the grounds of gender, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation. If they refuse to sign, they should be denied participation in the games.
2. Making a public statement that LGBT athletes are welcome at London 2012 and that participating nations must not discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Olympics should be open to everyone, based solely on merit and without discrimination.
Sport should have no boundaries or exclusions. There should be a level-playing field for all competitors, regardless of their background.
Any country that discriminates against women or ethnic, religious or sexual minorities should be disqualified from the 2012 Olympics
The Olympic Charter states:
Fundamental principles of Olympism
4. The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practising sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.
6. Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.
7. Belonging to the Olympic Movement requires compliance with the Olympic Charter
Please advise me what action the IOC and LOCOG is taking to ensure compliance with the non-discrimination provisions of the Olympic Charter.
Director of the human rights advocacy organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
For further information:
Studio 5, Disney Place House, 14 Marshalsea Road, London SE1 1HLClick here to return to the Sport Index