Minky Worden

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Staff members at a Monday rehearsal for a victory ceremony at the Beijing Medals Plaza of the Winter Olympics. (Ng Han Guan/AP)

In 2019, then-International Ski Federation President Gian Franco Kasper told a German newspaper that the Olympics are “easier in dictatorships”. The honorary International Olympic Committee member was referring to awarding the 2022 Winter Olympics to China. “Dictators can organize events such as this without asking the people’s permission”, Kasper said. He walked back his comments under pressure, but he had already said out loud what many sport federation leaders think in private.

The Beijing Winter Olympics open in a month and the FIFA World Cup kicks off in November in Qatar. With the world’s two biggest sporting events being hosted by major human rights abusers, this year is forcing an overdue reckoning for powerful sports bodies that for years have sidelined their formal commitments to human rights.…  Seguir leyendo »

La FIFA debe exigir a Rusia el respeto a los derechos LGBT en el Mundial

La FIFA, el órgano rector del fútbol mundial, tenía un problema de reputación. En 2015, Sepp Blatter, el entonces presidente de la organización, y otros altos funcionarios enfrentaban cargos de corrupción y, después de otorgar los mundiales de 2018 a Rusia y de 2022 a Catar, recibieron una respuesta pública negativa por el mediocre historial de esos países en materia de derechos humanos.

Como parte de su maniobra de limpieza, la FIFA aceptó solicitar un mínimo de estándares de derechos humanos a los países que buscaran albergar competencias futbolísticas, entre ellas la tolerancia cero hacia la discriminación por orientación sexual.

La primera prueba para estas nuevas políticas llegará el 14 de junio, cuando arranque el Mundial de Rusia, un país que es abiertamente hostil hacia la comunidad LGBT.…  Seguir leyendo »

Will FIFA Force Russia to Make the World Cup Friendly to L.G.B.T. People?

FIFA, the governing body of international soccer, had a reputation problem. In 2015, Sepp Blatter, the organization’s president at the time, and other top executives were facing corruption charges and, after awarding the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, a public backlash over those countries’ poor human rights records.

As part of cleaning up its act, FIFA agreed to require minimum human rights standards for countries that apply to host soccer competitions, including zero tolerance for discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The first test of these new policies will come on June 14 as the 2018 FIFA World Cup opens in Russia, a country openly hostile to L.G.B.T.…  Seguir leyendo »

Beach volleyball is testing women's rights in Iran.

Yes, beach volleyball in Iran. You may think that women's rights there are a secondary issue, compared with recent headlines focusing on a nuclear agreement, the freeing of the Washington Post's correspondent in Tehran and other prisoners, and an almost-international incident when American sailors veered into Iranian waters.

But in fact, this issue goes to the heart of whether Iran upholds its international agreements.

Later this month, Iran will host a prestigious international beach volleyball tournament on Kish Island, south of the mainland in the Persian Gulf. This is a first for Iran, which was selected as the host country by the Lausanne-based International Volleyball Federation, or FIVB.…  Seguir leyendo »

Human Rights and the 2022 Olympics

The Olympic spirit has come to this: Two authoritarian countries are vying to host the 2022 Winter Games, competing to endure a huge financial strain for the benefit of burnishing their public image. The withdrawal of Oslo in October left Beijing, China’s capital, and Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan, as the contenders. They formally submitted their bids to the International Olympic Committee this month.

That helps explain why the president of the International Olympic Committee, the German lawyer Thomas Bach, pushed through landmark human rights reforms at a big Olympic summit meeting in Monaco last month.

For the first time, host countries must sign a contract that requires protections for human rights, labor and the environment.…  Seguir leyendo »

Russian officials up to President Vladi­mir Putin have been trying to reassure the International Olympic Committee that its laws against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people won’t have an impact on the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. Moscow has said that it will respect international norms against discrimination under the agreement it made when it was awarded the Olympics.

Don’t believe it.

Russia’s scorn for international norms got a public airing last week when a state TV channel, Rossiya 1, broadcast audio recordings from a recent private meeting of human rights advocates and Russian LGBT activists.

The excerpts, aired during an openly anti-gay broadcast, could have been obtained only through surveillance.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Sept. 10, members of the International Olympic Committee will vote for a new president for the first time in 12 years. The campaign for the I.O.C. presidency is a quiet event that does not attract much news coverage (how many of the six candidates can you name?), but if you care about human rights, the stakes are high. This may be the last chance for many years to reform the committee’s approach to repressive governments that seek to host the games. It is imperative that the committee elect a president willing to lead, not cave in, on this issue.

The 12-year term of the current president, Jacques Rogge of Belgium, will be remembered in large part for the glaring contradiction between the I.O.C.’s…  Seguir leyendo »

Minky Worden is director of global initiatives for Human Rights Watch and editor of “The Unfinished Revolution,” a book on women’s rights around the world.

Text messages are the ultimate convenience, used by people worldwide to communicate, often to notify friends and families of their whereabouts. In many countries, new technologies can serve to enhance individual liberty. But technology does not always liberate.

Last month, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia expanded a system in which it sends Saudi men text messages, known as SMS, to notify them when their wives or other “dependents” leave the country, as part of its regulations requiring women to obtain permission from their guardians to travel.…  Seguir leyendo »

Corks popped this month in Copenhagen, with Rio de Janeiro voted as host city for the 2016 Summer Games and the convening of the XIII Olympic Congress, the first since 1994. Meanwhile, in a dark cell in Fuzhou, a coastal city on the East China Sea, Ji Sizun has no cause to celebrate. The 59-year-old legal activist was sentenced to three years in prison in January. His crime? He took the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Chinese government at their word when authorities set up three official protest zones during the Beijing Games and said that any citizen could apply to protest.…  Seguir leyendo »