Countries with overtly discriminatory laws might find themselves banned from consideration for hosting the Olympic Games under the new president of the International Olympics Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach.
As LGBT activists have noted, the Olympic Charter’s Principle 6 states that “any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.”
In July 2013, then-IOC president Jacques Rogge said in an interview with Der Tagesspiegel, “The International Olympic Committee is aware that sport is a human right and must be accessible to all, regardless of ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation…The IOC will continue to work to ensure that the Games take place without discrimination. We would oppose in the strongest terms any move that would jeopardise this principle.”
Russian President Vladmir Putin signed the country’s anti-gay legislation into law on June 30, 2013, only months before the 2014 Games were scheduled to begin—too late for the IOC to change their location.
Though the IOC pledged to “continue to work to ensure that the Games can take place without discrimination against athletes, officials, spectators and the media,” the Russian government made conflicting statements regarding the status of its anti-gay laws during the Games, and ultimately arrested dozens of people within the first few days.
When members of the press asked if Principle 6 could be used to create a new prerequisite regarding what locations are eligible for hosting the Games, IOC spokesman Mark Adams confirmed, “It can be changed.”
After he took office as the president of the IOC, Thomas Bach started the Agenda 2020, which Adams described as “looking at just about everything on how [the] Olympics are run.” He added that Principle 6 “is not something that is specifically looked at but if there is a groundswell of opinion it could be.”
Pro-LGBT group AllOut responded by launching a petition asking the IOC to overhaul the application process and make sure host cities do not have discriminatory laws (including anti-gay laws), get selected host cities to agree not to introduce new discriminatory laws if they win the Games, and consider submissions from human rights organizations a vital part of the application process.
The petition, which is seeking 100,000 signatures, says, “If countries with anti-gay laws were banned from hosting the Olympics, it would make governments think twice about attacking gay people. It could help stop anti-gay laws in Ukraine—and in time, help win the battle against anti-gay laws everywhere. Please sign to ask the Olympic Committee to change the rules so that the Games can’t be held in countries where laws violate international human rights standards.”
According to Gay Star News, if the IOC does institute a rule based on Principle 6, upcoming Games that have already finalized their location will not be impacted; these include Rio De Janeiro, Brazil in 2016, Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2018, and Tokyo, Japan in 2020.
There could, however, be fewer candidates for the 2022 Winter Olympics; potential host locations include Lviv in Ukraine and Almaty in Kazakhstan, neither of which are LGBT-friendly.