Indian Olympic Association’s Safe Sport Policy@dminx
When it comes to organising and controlling a sporting event, the negative impact of harassment and abuse does not become limited to an athlete but extends to the organisation which organizes the participating competition. Therefore, the Consensus Statement was clear in tabulating those impacts out. As such, any organisation can be impacted negatively in the following manner, in case the mal practices of harassment and abuse continue to affect an organisation’s events:
- Reputational Damage
- Loss of players and fans
- Loss of sponsorship
- Reduced medal tally
- Reduced public confidence
- Loss of trust
- Asset depreciation
Since the negative impacts of harassment and abuse can be enormous and an organisation might suffer permanent commercial, social and ethical damage, let alone the necessity arising out of the diverse “geographical and cultural aspects” unique to India, a policy like the IOA Safe Sport Policy was long overdue.
The IOA Safe Sport Policy has recognized that there are various kinds of harassment and abuse, that go beyond the realms of sexual harassment and related abuse. Also, contrary to other Indian laws, the IOA has included the elite, young adults and lesbian/gay/bisexual/trans-sexual/queer (LGBTQ) as protected under the IOA Safe Sport Policy, accepting universal norms as their own.
Additionally, in line with the IOC Consensus Statement, the IOA has included psychological abuse, physical abuse and neglect within the list of broader forms of abuse under Article 4 of the IOA Safe Sport Policy and separately mentioned violations of bullying, complicity and inducement under Article 7 of the IOA Safe Sport Policy, which contribute to the segregation of various mechanisms towards harassment and abuse.
Given the specificity of sport in itself, in India, it is highly probable that many of these athletes (young adults and children) and other individuals, on account of their adolescence and/or lack of education, are yet unaware of: (i) their rights; (ii) what constitutes an offence; and (iii) the ways to report instances of harassment and abuse to the right authorities. Additionally, they can also be confused or mislead. Therefore, the IOA has also introduced a proper “Reporting Mechanism” with detailed procedural elements, including the dispute resolution procedures, and a governing body.
The IOA Safe Sport Policy has introduced Article 5 which raises awareness among all those involved in the Olympic movement, to recognise and respond against any signs of harassment or abuse. Since one of the main objectives pointed out by the IOA in its Safe Sport Policy is to raise awareness of and provide clarity on the aspects of harassment and abuse, a detailed section on various elements and violations of harassment and abuse has been set out. However, it lacks in explaining the mechanisms for doing it, as was suggested in the Consensus Statement.
Once the cultural diversity and similar factors unique to India are factored in, it may not be safe to presume that a considerable number of the athletes or the sporting community in India is aware of what constitutes harassment and abuse or how it can be foreseen and eventually prevented. And it is also true that such external factors further contribute in the degrading results in an event. This is the reason why, it is also important for the IOA to amend the Safe Sport Policy from time to time, so that the prevention elements are further introduced to an athlete or any reader in a way that they understand it for the optimal use of the IOA Safe Sport Policy.