By Jack Tarrant
TOKYO (Reuters) – The International Olympic Committee said on Saturday it will form a new committee to advise the executive board on human rights issues within sport, including the requirements for all future Olympic Games host cities.
The new advisory committee will be headed by former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein of Jordan, and the composition of the committee will be announced at the Executive Board meeting in March 2019.
At the conclusion of the two-day executive board meeting in Tokyo – the hosts of the next Olympic and Paralympic Games – IOC President Thomas Bach said all Games host city candidates beyond 2024 will have to meet strict human rights criteria.
“This commitment and this committee, of course, will concentrate on the spheres of work of the IOC that means, in particular, the organisation of the Olympic Games and the Youth Olympic Games,” Bach told reporters.
“We can, we will, not pretend that the IOC or the Olympic Games can solve human rights issues beyond our spheres of work. There is enough to do within our spheres of work.”
Bach added that the new committee will advise the executive board on transgender rights later this year.
In 2016, the IOC adopted new guidelines that allowed transgender athletes to compete in the Olympics without undergoing sex reassignment surgery.
BOXING AT TOKYO 2020
The first day of the meeting was dominated by the IOC’s decision to freeze all planning for boxing events at the 2020 Olympics amid an ongoing investigation into the sport’s governing body AIBA for issues related to governance and finance.
Bach said his number one priority was to ensure the athletes who want to compete at the Olympics were not punished.
“We want to have one (boxing at Tokyo 2020) and this is why we will work hard for the athletes,” said Bach, who refused to be drawn on what the alternative was for the IOC if the AIBA loses its Olympic backing.
“Because here, again, it is always the same; we do not want athletes to suffer due to misbehaviour of officials or people to which they are not related and with the misbehaviour of whom they have nothing to do.”
The two remaining candidate cities for the 2026 Winter Olympics — Stockholm and Milan-Cortina — made presentations to Bach and other delegates at the Association of National Olympic Committee general assembly in Tokyo on Wednesday.
Both bids have made a commitment to sustainability with the IOC’s ‘The New Norm’ programme central to their proposals. Bach said he welcomed their approach.
“With reducing the investments of these venues, whilst on the other hand increasing the sustainability, you can see both candidates… plan to use 80 percent of existing or temporary facilities, which again is an increase of 33 percent compared to the projects in 2018 and 2022,” said Bach.
The IOC’s ‘The New Norm’ programme is intended to make it cheaper and easier to host an Olympic Games.
(Reporting by Jack Tarrant; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)