Human rights at the Olympic Games: policy, protest, progress?

Adam Talbot*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explores the evolution of IOC human rights policy reform under the presidency of Thomas Bach in relation to civil society groups pressuring the IOC over human rights violations. This reveals differing conceptions of rights at play, with the IOC seeing human rights as specific conditions which can be defined and protected by written rules and policy, while their critics view rights as a discursive tool to make claims for the marginalised. These different understandings of what human rights are lead to different expectations about what policy needs to address. Recent reforms have been generated in part by human rights advocacy groups and grassroots activists successfully working together to highlight issues and make demands upon the IOC. However, human rights advocacy groups are caught in the middle of an increasingly wide gap between grassroots activists and the IOC, presenting challenges to continuing progress on human rights.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEvent Management
Early online date16 Apr 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • human rights
  • Olympic Games
  • policy
  • social movements


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