Olympic Size Corruption: Member of Parliament, Graham Stringer MP, speaks out against the IOC

Olympic Size Corruption: Member of Parliament, Graham Stringer MP, speaks out against the IOC
FILE PHOTO: The giant Olympic rings, which are being temporarily removed for maintenance, are seen behind Japan's national flag, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at the waterfront area at Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo, Japan August 6, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo

The International Olympic Committee, a body that is itself becoming synonymous with bribery, is giving some states a free pass to engage in corrupt behaviour. If it were not bad enough that they are cheating deserving cities and countries out of the right to host the Olympics, they are also culpable for human rights abuses.

The IOC has lofty goals that range from building a better world through sport and promote values of excellence, respect, and friendship to ultimately place sport at the service of humankind to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity. However, they regularly fall far short of living up to those principles.

By allowing the games to take place in Beijing, the IOC has directly allowed businesses in the Uyghur region to continue their countless human rights violations with special emphasis on child and forced labour

The IOC appears to be corrupt to its core. An example of this is seen in the case of the 2000 Sydney Olympic games that were bought rather than allocated fairly. This allegation of corruption had been confirmed by the vice president of the International Olympic Committee and president of the Australian National Olympic Committee, John Coates, who stated that Sydney won the games because it had essentially paid for them. Coates mentioned that in 1993 he offered two National Olympic Committees in Africa a substantial payment for their Olympic vote. The actions of John Coates in the run-up to the 2000 Sydney Olympic games are quite alarming as according to the IOC, he had not broken any rules or regulations. This issue is relevant now more than ever as John Coates attempts to be appointed to the organizing committee of the 2032 Brisbane Olympics. John Coates, the man who bribed African officials to stop Manchester hosting the Game, overseeing the Brisbane 2032 bid is according to Graham Stringer MP “bad for sport”.

Graham Stringer MP, a politician that was actively involved in Manchester’s thwarted bid to host the XXVII Summer Olympiad, but found itself outmaneuvered through bribery and corruption had stern words to say on the body charged with awarding and overseeing the right to host what many consider to be the greatest show on earth. Talking to the human rights and business think ImpACT International the Labour Member of Parliament stated that the “IOC lacks democracy, and is unaccountable” it’s a “closed world”. Indeed, the IOC is “riddled with corruption.” Stringer confirmed the corruption that cost Manchester the Games, there was “corruption in Sydney's bid. Brown paper bags were given out to African delegates containing large sums of money.”

The actions of John Coates are seen by some as having a detrimental impact on the U.K. and the need to regenerate cities such as Manchester which lost out to Sydney at the start of the millennium. The UK now has anti-corruption legislation and laws in force to stop bribery and other unethical business practices. Regretfully, this now places the U.K. at a disadvantage when competing against less scrupulous states. Surely in sports, cheats should not prosper. Furthermore, the IOC is setting a bad example that undermines the drive for a more ethical international business environment.

The acid test of whether the IOC will end or endorse corruption and bribery is whether or not they will tolerate John Coates again manipulating the decision-making process on who is awarded the right to host the Olympics. If Coates continues to oversee Brisbane’s bid for the Olympics it should raise red flags for others hoping to host the greatest show on earth. The IOC must act against his role, indeed, speaking out against his corrupt activities is the acid test of whether that governing body will end or endorse corruption and bribery.

A similar case of bribery had been seen during the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics in Brazil where the former governor of Rio de Janeiro, Sergio Cabral, confirmed that the committee had paid $1.6 million to ensure that the Olympic Games would be secured for Brazil. Carlos Nuzman, the chairman of the Brazilian Olympic Committee denied any allegations of wrongdoing but was arrested in 2017, alongside Cabral who had been previously found guilty of several corruption cases.

Four years after Brazil’s scandal, another scandal left Japan's Olympic Committee under investigation due to allegations of a payment of £1.8 million to gain the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. However, amidst these allegations, the Japanese government continues to deny any accusations of corruption and bribery but were brought under investigation by French prosecutors when the incident first occurred in 2016.

These examples indicate why the IOC should end unethical actions and sever links with those involved in bribing and corruption to prevent members such as Coates and Nuzman from engaging in the same unlawful acts. By allowing acts of corruption and bribery to take place in the bidding process of the allocation of the Olympic Games, the IOC is not only promoting a culture that undermines human rights but results in the misallocation of resources and creates a business environment that encourages powerful members to think they are exempt from ethical standards.

The Winter Olympic Games in Beijing 2022 represent negligence committed by the IOC in not considering human rights abuses before awarding their games. By allowing the games to take place in Beijing, the IOC has directly allowed businesses in the Uyghur region to continue their countless human rights violations with special emphasis on child and forced labour. As mentioned by the United Nations Human Rights Watch, the IOC did not conduct human rights due diligence to prevent the risk of having Olympic uniforms and merchandise being produced by forced labour in Xinjiang province. This shows the detrimental effects that neglect of unethical behavior of host countries may have on entire communities and in this case on the Muslims held in detention camps in China whose cries are ignored by international organizations.

In essence, corruption and unethical behavior by the IOC have helped China exploit forced labour ahead of the Beijing Games in 2022. As stated by the labour program director at the Justice-International Labour Rights Forum, by ignoring the risk of Uyghur slave labour used to produce Olympic merchandise, the IOC is shamefully putting profit and political interests above principles and people. The IOC had not provided sufficient assurance that the Olympic games were not sourcing products from Chinese factories with transparent employment and working conditions.

Stringer was clear on how the decisions of the IOC have harmful consequences. “Chinese human rights abuses have been encouraged by them being given the Olympics.” And let us not forget that the “World Cup in Russia was obtained by corruption.” The world may be a better and safer place if the IOC and other awarding bodies practiced ethics. However, there is hope and the situation is not all bad. On the issue of the 2022 Football World Cup awarded by FIFA, Graham Stringer MP stated that “Qatar has seen improvements.”

Whilst some are reforming the IOC has not done enough. Its continuing corruption still sees powerful individuals and members of the Olympic Committee abuse their power and use it in ways that will harm the human rights of athletes, damage the reputation of sport, and reduce the opportunity for less powerful actors and countries to benefit from hosting the Games and contribute to the world through sport.


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