International Olympic Committee’s approach towards harassment in Sports@dminx
This review is a series of small readings, with an aim to analyse the Safe Sports Policy that was released by the Indian Olympic Association (“IOA”) on 30 December 2019.
The principles for safe sport within the idea of Olympism are ever evolving and it was in the year 2014 that the 2020 agenda on safe sports was decided upon (“2020 IOC Agenda”). In the 2020 IOC Agenda, the International Olympic Committee (“IOC”) extended its focus to the following overarching topics: sustainability, credibility, universality, non-discrimination and youth. The 2020 IOC Agenda aimed at providing opportunities for communication, for dialogue, for global solidarity, for social development, and for peace, keeping in mind, a universal view, while acknowledging the diversity that comes with different parts and cultures of the world.
The aim of promoting awareness and preventive mechanisms, against harassment and abuse, among nations around the globe, has led many countries like India to adopt “their” own versions of the safe sport policy. In this backdrop, this review seeks to discuss the idea of safe sports as set out by the IOC and how it can be improved and/or perfected by the IOA for the wholesome safeguard of the Indian sporting community.
International Olympic Committee’s approach towards harassment in Sports
Numerous scientific studies and research, including data collection, commissioned by the IOC revealed that the effects of harassment and abuse were not limited to social or ethical damage of an athlete; but his/her physical, emotional and mental health was also affected. Further, such concern was not limited only to an athlete.
Consequently, the movement towards creating awareness and prevention of sexual harassment and abuse globally, became primary for the IOC. This was especially so since it was now clear that such abuse and harassment was increasingly becoming common amongst all sports and people connected with it, particularly in situations of inequitable power – between coaches and athletes or even high stakes in the sporting industry, including but not limited to the peers of athletes.
On 8 and 9 December 2014, during the 127th IOC Session in Monaco, the IOC President, Mr. Thomas Bach, alongside other IOC Members, unanimously agreed upon the 2020 IOC Agenda, whose recommendations included fostering gender equality and strengthening the 6th Fundamental Principle of Olympism.
Keeping in mind the above, on 30 March 2016, the IOC released its IOC Consensus Statement: Harassment and Abuse in Sport (“Consensus Statement”). The main reason the IOC released the Consensus Statement was to recognize various non-accidental harms perpetrated on not only athletes (inclusive of children, young adults and adults) but also athletes’ entourage, medical and scientific personnel and women in sport Commissions, and other associates of the Olympic Movement.
IOC, based on the scientific studies and research, referred above, realized that there is a wider array of non-accidental violence, through which IOC associates are maltreated, and can be subject to additional threats and rights violations. On this basis, the Consensus Statement not only recognized various forms of harassment and abuse, but also acknowledged the fact that there can be various mechanisms that can adversely contribute to such harassment and abuse.
According to the IOC, a strengthened wording to represent all sexual orientations within the Olympic community was very much required and hence the definition of the 6th Fundamental Principle of Olympism within the Olympic Charter was derived from the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, so as to allow a wholesome development of the sporting community in general.
Indeed, as the IOC mandates, it has become important for the IOC member states to acknowledge, draft and implement guidelines that touch the key issues proposed under the Consensus Statement. It bears noting that under the Consensus Statement, a special focus was given to deprived classes of the sporting community which includes the LGBT community, players with disabilities, young athletes and women.
India has an extensive set of laws against sexual harassment and abuse, including the Indian Penal Code and the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. Indeed, most of these laws focus on women and children. By virtue of Article 15(2) and 15(3) of the Constitution of India (“Constitution of India”), any act of discrimination on the grounds of sex, race, etc with regard to the access to public places is prohibited. The State however possess the power to make special provisions for the protection of women and children.
Because of its direct association with the IOC, the Indian Olympic Association (“IOA”) has introduced its IOA Safe Sport Policy, which focuses on covering all the varied sexual orientations and individuals connected with the IOA(“IOA Safe Sport Policy”).
- Different Global Perspective towards Harassment in Sport
- Indian Olympic Association’s Safe Sport Policy
- To perfect the IOA Safe Sport Policy