CPJ, HRW write to future IOC president, receive response

The Committee to Protect Journalists and Human Rights Watch have jointly called on the six presidential candidates of the International Olympics Committee to ensure that future host countries of the Olympic Games fully comply with human rights principles enshrined in the Olympic Charter, including press freedom and non-discrimination.

The August 2 letter, available here in full, was passed to the candidates–Thomas Bach (Germany), Sergey Bubka (Ukraine), Richard Carrión (Puerto Rico), Ser Miang Ng (Singapore), Denis Oswald (Switzerland), and Ching-Kuo Wu (Taiwan)–through the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. The IOC replied to CPJ and HRW on behalf of all six candidates on August 15. The IOC’s letter, in full, is available here.

In recent months, Russian authorities have cracked down on independent journalists, human rights defenders, and non-governmental organizations through a series of restrictive laws along with hostile rhetoric. CPJ and HRW continue to document and report on human rights and press freedom abuses in Russia on a daily basis, and we continue to call on the would-be IOC president, who will be elected in September in Buenos Aires, to take a principled leadership position on these important issues.

While the IOC said it expects “any Olympic Games, regardless of their location and including the next edition in Sochi, to take place without any form of discrimination,” it also said that “it is important to stress that the IOC’s remit is limited to the scope of the Games. For instance, the IOC cannot influence national legislation and has to respect the law of any host country.”

Christophe De Kepper, the IOC’s director general, wrote that while ensuring human rights and media freedom is crucial “in the context of the organization and staging of the Olympic Games,” he added: “At the same time, it is clear that the environment of each country in which the Games are held is different and poses different opportunities and challenges.”

UPDATE: The text has been corrected to reflect that Sergey Bubka is from the Ukraine–not from Russia, as previously stated.