Mega sporting events and human rights: The responsibility of business


The Australian Human Rights Institute at UNSW Sydney, the Cluster on Corporate Citizenship at Macquarie University and the University of Melbourne hosted this two-day event exploring the roles, responsibilities and rights of athletes, business, government and local communities involved in major sporting events to both prevent and redress human rights impacts.

Thursday, 20 October – Virtual Event | 3pm-6pm

3pm-4.15pm Protecting rights of workers and athletes

Workers play a key role in ensuring smooth organisation of mega sporting events – like constructing stadiums. In many cases, these (migrant) workers are exploited. The rights of athletes may also get abridged at these events due to restrictions on their freedom of speech or sexual harassment in situations of a power imbalance. This session looked at the responsibility of businesses and sports organisations towards the rights of workers and athletes.

Professor Surya Deva (Macquarie University)

Dr Yetsa Tualki-Wosornu (Sports Equity Lab, Yale University), Nikki Dryden (Olympian and human rights lawyer), Johnson Yeung (Clean Clothes Campaign).

4.15pm-4.30pm Break

4.30pm-6pm Mega sporting events and human rights

This panel addressed the considerable human rights implications of sporting events like the FIFA World Cup, including the rights of citizens in the host countries, the fundamental freedoms of athletes, journalists and spectators, and the rights of workers involved in construction sites and supply chains. 

Professor Justine Nolan (Australian Human Rights Institute, UNSW Sydney)

Craig Foster AM (former Socceroo and broadcaster), Mary Harvey (CEO, Centre for Sport and Human Rights), Mustafa Qadri (founder, Equidem Research and Consulting), Brendan Schwab (Executive Director, World Players' Association)

Friday, 21 October – Sofitel Sydney Wentworth (61/101 Phillip St, Sydney) | 9.30am-1pm
Supported by

9.30am-11am Responsibility of investors, sponsors and broadcasters

Corporate sponsorship, government funding and the media are integral to major sporting events, but their role and responsibility to use their leverage to bring about positive improvements in the processes, principles and organisation of sport and sporting events remains unclear. This session looked at how the media, investors and corporate sponsors can help in the promotion of human rights through sport.

Tracey Holmes (journalist and broadcaster)

Kieran Pender (journalist, lawyer and academic), Mariam Veiszadeh (CEO, Media Diversity Australia), Lisa Walton (Olympian and Director, Deloitte Digital).

11am-11.30am Break

11.30pm-1pm The role of sports organisations - pathways of accountability

Expectations in sports are changing, and sports organisations are expected to understand and demonstrate their commitment to respecting human rights. This session looked at how sporting organisations are challenged by existing practices in sport and how some are overcoming these to strengthen their commitment to the promotion of human rights within the sports they govern.

Dr Natalie Galea (University of Melbourne, IJF Athletes Commission and Olympian)

John Didulica (Director of Football, Melbourne Victory FC), Jane Leibowitz (Human Rights Manager, 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup), Dr Catherine Ordway (Associate Professor, University of Canberra), Alison Quigley (Athletes Rights Australia, former national gymnast).