Leisure and Human Rights
Global leisure and sporting events often capture the attention of the whole world. The sole reason being, it is through these multicultural events that most nation states send their representatives. Hosting of such events often prompts competition between and among different nation states. They are sometimes referred to as Mega Sporting Events by the media (Andreff & Szymanski, 2006, p.177). However, on the other hand, hosting such events attracts civil society practitioners and activists as well as trade unionists. Such groups always attempt to point out an array of issues that entail the social milieu and environmental realms among others. The implication therefore is that because such events attract commercial involvement in a large-scale manner, it is these corporate organizations that become targets for campaigns by the civil society, human rights activists as well as trade unionists among others. This paper shall thus focus on a number of human right issues that arise as a result of global leisure events.
The organization of mega sporting events is associated with the occurrence of activities that undermine human rights. This often comes with accusations of issues to do with sweatshop labor, which is usually evident during the supply chain for the leisure goods. The sporting attire and official merchandise for such events often witnesses a rapid influx irrespective of the economic ability of the host nation; a developed or a less developed country. Empirical examples exist to reinforce the issue of human rights in relation to such mega events. For instance, prior the Beijing Olympics, a prevalence of incidences of child exploitation, long working hours for laborers as well as undermining of the conventional principles that govern health and safety at work were grossly violated by the event organizers. This is according to the Playfair Campaign. In addition, before the FIFA World Cup in South Africa as well as the 2012 Olympics in South Africa, activists point out to a number of hostile conditions of low wages for extremely long periods of time, abuse of labor rights for the supply of sporting apparels. The World Cup in South Africa saw prevalence in the rates of harassment by the law enforcement agencies, forceful ejection of street vendors among others (Institute for Human Rights and Business, 2013, p.2). Concisely, in as much as such events provide opportunities for the common man, they are associated with poor working conditions that vividly overlook the existing human rights. On the other hand, such events provide the rich with opportunities to get involved in the organization and pave way for the eviction of the poor who conduct businesses in areas of facilities development.
In 2014, Brazil played host to the FIFA World Cup. In 2016, the same nation state will be hosting the Summer Olympics. A number of state as well as non state actors have been at the forefront of highlighting the impacts that were caused by the massive development of infrastructure prior the tournament. Other projects are currently ongoing in preparation for the Summer Olympics. The government of Brazil was quick to mention that any forms of resettlement as a result of the urban dynamics would be compensated. In addition, the government also promised the involvement of the local community as well as the marginalized groups in planning and organization processes to increase accountability. The reality however is that, no compensation has taken place and that resettlement of people manifested itself through coercive means by the law enforcement agencies. In addition to this, the use of forced labor played the status quo, there was a general lack of a consensus agreement by the affected population and the abuse of human rights was epitomized by violent oppression of any protesting civilian parties. Such activities were conducted by the private development companies (Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, (n.d). The violation of human rights in Brazil significantly affected the poor in society. When it came to issues of decision-making, they were rarely involved in addition to the gross violation of human rights.
In October 2013, Amnesty International published a report concerning the status of immigrant laborers involved in the development of infrastructure. The report titled “The Dark Side of Migration” points out a number of human rights issues in the Middle Eastern nation state. Upon winning the bid to host the world’s most coveted sporting event, Qatar had an initial plan of developing 9 new stadiums in addition to the refurbishment of three others. In addition to this, good hotels as well as road and communication networks need to exist to compliment the sporting facilities. However, not all has been well in the realm of human rights, particularly for those involved in the development of infrastructure. International media published the working conditions of immigrant communities document a number of issues that adversely affect them. To that extent, the international dignity and ability of Qatar to host the event has been put under serious scrutiny. The publication by the human rights organization points out extensive form of exploitation for the migrant workers. The report brings to light the following issues; Migrant workers are promised good and sustainable salaries but the conditions change upon their arrival in Qatar. The employers also hold back the salaries of the migrant workers for a couple of months. This makes it impossible for the migrant communities to meet their daily needs. In addition, the employers are notorious for retaining the official documents of the migrant workers leaving them vulnerable to arrest as well as harassment by the law enforcement agencies. This also limits their freedom of movement. The working health and safety conditions of the workers are also not taken care of, exposing them to a plethora of work related accidents. The workers are also housed in dirty conditions among others. The above conditions point out to gross violation of human rights. A combination of these events has adverse effects on the individual. Such effects include psychological distress and trauma. Long periods of work without pay also expose their families to debts and harassment by the moneylenders (Amnesty International, 2013, p.5).
Global leisure activities also have positive impacts on the host nation state. The development of infrastructure ensures that a general growth in economy. Good transport and communication facilities are essential for accelerated growth in economy. Such events also promote tourism. Tourism is major form of foreign exchange that ensures a sable status of the host nation currency. It also improves living standards by providing employment for both the skilled and non-skilled laborers. Overall, both authors pay attention to the human rights issue. They point out how human rights are affected by such events. In addition, they also portray the issue of social inequalities as a result of the organization of such events. This organization always affects the poor in the community and not the privileged according to the authors. Concisely, there is widespread and obvious evidence that such leisure activities adversely affect human rights. A rational involvement of the minority and the poor in society is therefore necessary to ensure transparency. The state should be at the forefront of ensuring that her citizens are respected in accordance to the existing laws during the planning and organization of such events.
Amnesty International. (2013). The Dark Side of Migration. Spotlight on Qatar’s
Construction Sector Ahead Of the World Cup. Page 5-6 Internet Resource. Retrieved from http://www.amnesty.org.uk/sites/default/files/the_dark_side_of_migration_-_spotlight_on_qatars_construction_sector_ahead_of_the_world_cup.pdf
Andreff, W., & Szymanski, S. (2006). Handbook on the economics of sport. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar. Retrieved from http://books.google.co.ke/books?id=PGRkblShhU8C&pg=PA177&dq=what+are+Mega+Sporting+Events&hl=en&sa=X&ei=1dlkVK2GJIjgaIjYgmA&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=what%20are%20Mega%20Sporting%20Events&f=false
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, (n.d). Human rights abuses related to the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil. Retrieved from http://business-humanrights.org/en/major-sporting-events/human-rights-abuses-related-to-the-2014-fifa-world-cup-and-2016-olympic-games-in-brazil
Institute for Human Rights and Bussiness. (2013). Striving for Excellence: Mega-Sporting Events and Human Rights, Occasional Paper Series Paper Number 2. Internet resource. Retrieved from http://www.ihrb.org/pdf/2013-10-21_IHRB_Mega-Sporting-Events-Paper_Web.pdf
In your analysis of the literature, assess the strengths and weaknesses of the research done by the authors.