Geneva, 23 June – Today, the Olympic Day is celebrated in Lausanne, where the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has its headquarters. Naomy, a 12 year-old girl living in Vila Autódromo, Rio de Janeiro, has no reason to celebrate.
The community of Vila Autódromo was originally comprised of fisherman and lower-income people who settled alongside Lagoa de Jacarepaguá during the 1960’s. Although for some 30 years the residents faced the constant threat of being removed, in the 1990’s the government conceded them the right to use the land. Everything changed once Rio was awarded the 2016 Summer Olympics.
‘The Fighter’ tells the story of Naomy’s home in Vila Autódromo, where everything she loves is being ripped apart to make way for the Olympic Park. Naomy’s wide eyes take in everything, from the cynical, illegal eviction efforts, to her community’s refusal to go quietly. According to recent reports, the police has used indiscriminate violence against protesters aiming to halt the removal of the remaining homes.
“It was frightening”, Naomy says of the protest. “I was scared they would come back during the night. They want to take the community by force.”
Naomy’s struggle is too familiar to Brazilians and children from other places hosting Mega Sporting Events, such as South Africa. The University of Dundee and the Pontifical Catholic University in Rio de Janeiro documented children’s rights violations around the Brazil World Cup in 2014. Based on children’s views, ‘Let’s win this game together’ contributes to the understanding the nature and extent of the impact that Mega Sporting Events have on children.
The researchers identified four key violations to children’s rights:
- Police (and army) violence related to clearances of street children, occupation of low-income communities and protest repression was a critical issue in the pre-cup period.
- Displacement of children and families living in low-income neighbourhoods.
- Sexual exploitation was raised as an issue including sexual harassment of girls during occupation and displacement.
- Child labour and child neglect also emerged as a major problem during the event.
The research stated that leading sporting organizations, such as FIFA and the IOC, have a role and duty in preventing or mitigating human rights violations. It recommends changes in leading sports bodies’ policy to include a focus on children’s rights.
At the occasion of the Olympic Day, Terre des Hommes urges the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to:
- act and take the interests of all families and children in Vila Autódromo into consideration by urging the Brazilian government to halt unlawful forced removals and make sure any displacement is consistent with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, including an assessment of child’s best interests and the child’s right to be heard.
- ensure that a transparent assessment of the direct and indirect risks to children, in consultation with children and civil society, is included as part of the bidding process and host city contract, making sure children’s rights are respected and monitored from development, hosting and final reporting and that complaints mechanisms are in place and accessible.
- make sure future legacy plans are aligned with child rights benchmarks and recommendations from national, regional and international human rights bodies.
We agree with the IOC that the “Olympic Day is a great opportunity to look at the contribution of sport to global social issues that can affect your community”. This starts by ending child rights abuses linked to the hosting of the Olympics. Help us make sure that the IOC is listening to children:
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT
Dr Marianne Meier
Head of Project ‘Children Win’
+41 78 664 77 57
Dr Lorraine van Blerk
Reader in Human Geography
School of Environment, University of Dundee
+44 1382 385445