Tennis legend Martina Navratilova urges sporting bodies to take responsibility for human rights

International sporting organizations must take their responsibility to stop human rights abuses around mega sports events, the Czech-American tennis legend Martina Navratilova told a group of senior officials at a forum organized by the US State Department on Thursday the 13th of October. 

”I can tell you that athletes don’t want to compete in a stadium where workers lost their lives building it. Event hosts should have a plan to show that they will not arrest journalists, destroy the environment, displace communities, or neglect local populations that will most certainly be affected,” said Martina Navratilova in the opening speech of the forum where more than 120 senior officials had convened to discuss the human rights challenges associated with mega-sporting events such as the World Cups and Olympic Games. 

The tennis legend talked about how mega sports events have contributed to human rights violations such as labor abuses and workplace deaths, police killings, forced evictions and crackdown on protesters. 

“If the construction of stadiums and mega-sporting events is subjecting workers to unsafe conditions, it is the responsibility of the sport governing body to do something about it. They are the responsible party,” she said. 

”More and more people are starting to speak up against the workers’ and human rights abuses taking place in the name of sports. There is an urgency on the ground where workers risk their lives and people get their basic rights violated every day. The sport governing bodies cannot longer hide away from their responsibility.” said Ambet Yuson, who also participated in the forum.