MSEs and Human Rights

Mega-sporting events (MSEs) have great potential to positively impact people’s lives. Many countries and cities vie for the privilege and prestige of hosting these events, including to generate new jobs, stimulate urban renewal and foster healthy living and sports participation.

Past experience has shown that if not managed properly MSEs can lead to serious human rights abuses. The pattern of human rights abuses linked to MSEs over recent decades runs counter to the core values of sport, and risks undermining the unique power of sport to bring people together.

Risks associated with these events range from forced evictions of communities and reports of police brutality to unsafe working conditions in the construction and infrastructure sectors; from migrant worker vulnerability to sweatshop conditions and child labour in the merchandise supply chain; from restrictions on freedoms of association, peaceful assembly, and the rights of journalists to report freely to gender, racial, religious and homophobic discrimination on and off the field of sport.

These human rights challenges are often foreseeable and can be mitigated, but may be beyond the capacity of any one stakeholder group to adequately resolve. Failure to prevent and confront such abuses threatens to undermine sport’s unique power to reconcile differences and to be a force for good. All actors should unite to reinvigorate the ideals of harmony among nations and respect for humankind and common dignity upon which the greatest sporting traditions rest.

See the Resources section for further background on MSEs and human rights.