One year ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, Terre des hommes launches the report “Children Rights and Mega Sporting Events in 2014” and calls for an increase in media coverage and scrutiny on Mega Sporting Events.

The report was conducted by Karen Petry and Till Müller-Schoell of the Institute of European Sport Development and Leisure Studies in Cologne. They analysed cuttings from 24 different sources in 12 countries (Brazil, France, Germany, India, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, United States and United Kingdom) from 2014, the year of the Sochi Winter Olympics, Commonwealth Games and FIFA World Cup.

picture - media monitoring“It seems to be a general pattern that attention for human rights and children’s rights issues increases and peaks directly before MSEs, drops during the events and vanishes afterwards.

“This trend may suggest more work needs to be done to ensure that coverage and scrutiny of these events continue in the months – and even years – after they take place,” they said.

Analysis of media coverage regarding human rights issues of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, FIFA World Cup 2014 and Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games found:

  • The UK rated the highest of 12 countries assessed for quantity of human rights coverage, followed by World Cup hosts Brazil, then the US and the Netherlands. This is despite Brazil’s low ranking for press freedom
  • Russia came last in the ranking of human rights coverage with only 0.49% of the total, despite hosting the Sochi Winter Olympics in that year
  • In a breakdown of the types of issues covered, police violence and sexual exploitation were among the most frequent
  • While at its highest in the two-five months before the events, coverage of human rights issues during and after MSEs peaks around the day of the opening ceremonies in all territories and dies out afterwards almost completely
  • Coverage of FIFA corruption allegations and a trend for developing countries to host MSEs are thought to be behind an increase in coverage of human rights issues connected to them

While public awareness of the impact of Mega Sporting Events (MSEs) on human rights is a recent phenomenon, it still varies a great deal between countries – and the press is missing an opportunity to scrutinize these events after they have taken place.

Coverage of issues such as child sexual exploitation or evictions was generally higher in those countries which enjoy greater press freedom, but there were some surprising results.

Despite hosting one of the events, Russia’s coverage of human rights issues connected to Mega Sporting Events was the lowest, comprising only 0.49% of the total analysed. Russia features 148th in Reporters Without Borders’ list of countries ranked by press freedom. However, Brazil, which is ranked 108th, also hosted a Mega Sporting Event, yet despite this low rating it was second only after the UK in its coverage of human rights issues, according to the analysts.

The Netherlands was the smallest country analysed, yet produced 10.40% of coverage of human rights issues connected with mega sporting events, fourth in the list.

Human rights issues which have already been raised in relation to the FIFA World Cups of 2018 and 2022 (Qatar) show that the intertwining of MSEs, politics and human rights is only set to continue.

What media coverage will be given in the coming months to the campaign “Olmpiadas para quem?” launched today in Rio by local organizations against human rights violations connected to the Mega Sporting Events in Rio de Janeiro. Among the 16 points raised by the organisations, the act in front of the Mayor’s Office will highlight forced evictions, police and military violence against children and adolescents living in the street and repression of street vendors.

Read the press release

Read the full report

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