My latest article has just been published online by the Journal of Law and Society. It is available open access here.
The article stems from a conference organised by Jiri Priban from Cardiff University on Gunther Teubner's idea of societal constitutionalism applied to transnational regimes. My role was to test whether his descriptive and normative framework was readily applicable to the lex sportiva, and in particular its overarching "constitutional" text: the Olympic Charter.
As you will see my conclusion is mixed. I find that the Olympic Charter (OC) displays many constitutional features and is even able to regularly defend successfully its autonomy vis-à-vis national states and their laws. However, while I document some inception of limitative constitutional rules, such as the ban on discrimination or the principle of fair play, I also conclude that those have limited impact in practice. While constitutional changes to the OC can be triggered by scandal, resistance and contestation, as illustrated by the emergence of environmental concerns after the Albertville Games and the governance reshuffle of the IOC after the Salt Lake City scandal, I am also sceptical that these were sufficient to tackle the underlying problems, as became obvious with the unmatched environmental damage caused by the Sotchi Games in 2014.
In conclusion, more than sporadic public outrage, I believe that the intervention of national law and, even more, European Union law will be capable and needed to rein the Olympic regime and impose external constitutional constraints on its (at least sometimes) destructive operations.
Here is the abstract of the article: This article examines various aspects of Teubner's theory of societal constitutionalism using the lex sportiva as an empirical terrain. The case study focuses on the operation of the Olympic Charter as a transnational constitution of the Olympic movement. It shows that recourse to a constitutional vocabulary is not out of place in qualifying the function and authority of the Charter inside and outside the Olympic movement. Yet, the findings of the case study also nuance some of Teubner's descriptive claims and question his normative strategy.
Good read! (And do not hesitate to share your feedback)
This is a follow-up
contribution to my previous blog on human rights
implications of the Olympic Games published last week. Together with
highlighting some of the most serious Olympic Games-related human rights
abuses, the first part has outlined the key elements of the Host City Contract
('HCC') as one of the main legal instruments regulating the execution of the
Olympic Games. It has also indicated that, in February 2017, the International
Olympic Committee ('IOC') revised the 2024 HCC to include, inter alia, explicit human rights
obligations. Without questioning the potential significance of inserting human
rights obligations to the 2024 HCC, this second part will refer to a number of
outstanding issues requiring clarification in order to ensure that these
newly-added human rights obligations are translated from paper to actual practice. More...
Tomáš Grell is currently an LL.M. student
in Public International Law at Leiden University. He contributes to
the work of the ASSER International Sports Law Centre as a part-time
In its press release of 28 February 2017,
the International Olympic Committee ('IOC') communicated that, as part of the
implementation of Olympic Agenda 2020 ('Agenda 2020'), it is
making specific changes to the 2024
Host City Contract with regard to human
rights, anti-corruption and sustainable development. On this occasion, IOC
President Thomas Bach stated that ''this
latest step is another reflection of the IOC's commitment to embedding the
fundamental values of Olympism in all aspects of the Olympic Games''.
Although the Host City of the 2024 Summer Olympic Games is scheduled to be
announced only in September this year, it is now clear that, be it either Los
Angeles or Paris (as Budapest has recently withdrawn its bid), it will have to abide by an additional set of human
This two-part blog will
take a closer look at the execution of the Olympic Games from a human rights
perspective. The first part will address the most serious human rights abuses
that reportedly took place in connection with some of the previous editions of
the Olympic Games. It will also outline the key characteristics of the Host
City Contract ('HCC') as one of the main legal instruments relating to the
execution of the Olympic Games. The second part will shed light on the human
rights provisions that have been recently added to the 2024 HCC and it will seek
to examine how, if at all, these newly-added human rights obligations could be
reflected in practice. For the sake of clarity, it should be noted that the
present blog will not focus on the provisions concerning anti-corruption that
have been introduced to the 2024 HCC together with the abovementioned human
rights provisions. More...
Editor's Note: Ryan is Assistant Professor at Thompson Rivers University, he defended his PhD at Erasmus University Rotterdam in December 2015. His dissertation examined human rights violations caused by international sporting events, and how international sporting organisations may be held accountable for these violations.
On Sunday, August
21, the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro will end. The spotlight
will dim not only on the athletes who return to their home countries to ply their
trade in relative obscurity, but also on the country of Brazil.
Once the Games have ended, life will go ‘back to normal’, although for many
residents of Rio de Janeiro, what is ‘normal’ is anything but. More...
The 40 recommendations of the Olympic Agenda 2020 are out! First
thought: one should not underplay the 40 recommendations, they constitute (on
paper at least) a potential leap forward for the IOC. The media will focus on the hot stuff: the Olympic
channel, the pluri-localisation of the Games, or their dynamic format. More
importantly, and to some extent surprisingly to us, however, the IOC has also fully embraced
sustainability and good governance. Nonetheless, the long-term legacy of the
Olympic Agenda 2020 will hinge on the IOC’s determination to be true to these
fundamental commitments. Indeed, the devil is always in the implementation, and
the laudable intents of some recommendations will depend on future political choices
by Olympic bureaucrats.
For those interested in human rights and
democracy at (and around) the Olympics, two aspects are crucial: the IOC’s
confession that the autonomy of sport is intimately linked to the quality of
its governance standards and the central role the concept of sustainability is
to play in the bidding process and the host city contract. More...
Three weeks ago, I gave a talk for a group of visiting researchers
at Harvard Law School on the accountability of the IOC for human rights abuses
caused by hosting Olympic Games. On the day of that talk, Human Rights Watch announced
that the International Olympic Committee (“IOC”) would insert new language into
the Host City Contract presumably for the 2022 Olympic Games onwards. The new
language apparently requires the parties to the contract to:
“take all necessary measures to ensure that
development projects necessary for the organization of the Games comply with
local, regional, and national legislation, and international agreements and
protocols, applicable in the host country with regard to planning,
construction, protection of the environment, health, safety, and labour laws.”More...
The IOC has trumpeted it worldwide as a « historical
the United Nations has recognised the sacrosanct autonomy of sport. Indeed, the
Resolution A/69/L.5 (see the final draft) adopted by the General Assembly on 31 October states
that it “supports the independence and autonomy of sport as well as the
mission of the International Olympic Committee in leading the Olympic movement”.
This is a logical conclusion to a year that has brought the two organisations closer
than ever. In April, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appointed former IOC President, Jacques Rogge, Special
Envoy for Youth Refugees and Sport. At
this occasion, the current IOC President, Thomas Bach, made an eloquent speech celebrating a “historic step forward to better
accomplish our common mission for humanity” and a memorandum
understanding was signed between the UN and the IOC. This is all
sweet and well, but is there something new under the sun?More...
This post is an
extended version of an article published in August on hostcity.net.
The recent debacle among the candidate cities for the 2022 Winter
Games has unveiled the depth of the bidding crisis faced by the Olympic Games.
The reform process initiated in the guise of the Olympic Agenda 2020 must take
this disenchantment seriously. The Olympic Agenda 2020 took off with a wide
public consultation ending in April and is now at the end of the working groups phase. One of
the working groups was specifically dedicated to the bidding process and was headed
by IOC vice-president John Coates. More...