Paris 2024 Olympic & Paralympic Games
The 2024 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games will be hosted in Paris, France, from July 26 to August 11.
Paris 2024 will be the first Olympic Games which had human rights provisions included in its Host City Contract. This means that, for the first time, Olympic organizers are contractually bound to “protect and respect human rights and ensure any violation of human rights is remedied in a manner… consistent with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.”
In 2017, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Evaluation Commission 2024 published its assessment of the Paris bid for the Games, which pledged minimal construction of new venues, no displacement of residents and stakeholder engagement with labor unions and affected people. However, since the bidding process began before the IOC’s introduction of human rights-related bidding requirements, there is still a lack of clarity in how Paris 2024 will deliver on its human rights responsibilities.
In 2021, the organizers of Paris 2024 released a Legacy & Sustainability Plan. Though it does include a ‘responsible purchasing’ strategy that integrates social and environmental considerations into all procurement processes, a social charter adopted with trade unions, and a commitment to “use sport to” promote human human rights, the Plan heavily focuses on environmental and climate concerns over potential human rights impacts of the 2024 Games, which include.
The Paris2024 Olympics Porte de la Chapelle Arena building site is pictured Monday, Jan. 23, 2023 in Paris. AP Photo/Lewis Joly
Labor rights violations have been reported from workers involved in the construction of the infrastructure and venues for the games, which though less than other mega sporting events, still include 2 new stadiums and the facilities for the Olympic and Media Villages. Migrant workers in France, including Mali national Gaye Sarambounou, have reported exploitation and underpaid wages at sites run by Olympic construction partner Solideo.
Sarambounou told the French news agency AFP he was kicked off an Olympic building site, but had been working for three months on construction projects for long hours and less than minimum wage, without overtime.
“I accepted because I know my situation.. If you don’t have papers, you do all the hard work, all the crappy jobs,” said Sarambounou. “You have no choice. Everyone knows what’s going on, but nobody talks about it.”
Protesters opposed to AI surveillance during the Olympics demonstrating in Paris in December Photograph. Geoffroy van der Hasselt/AFP/Getty Images
Policing & Surveillance
The games could also perpetuate discrimination against marginalized groups, including through security measures that may disproportionately affect communities of color and low-income neighborhoods. The disaster at the 2022 Champions League Final in Paris highlighted the impact of abusive policing tactics and poor crowd control, which put thousands of fans’ lives at risk.
Additionally, Sport & Rights Alliance partners and other civil society organizations have strongly condemned the proposed use of algorithm-driven cameras to detect suspicious events in public spaces for its serious threat to the right to protest, democratic principles and other civic freedoms and its potential to increase racial discrimination. The French National Assembly, with its approval of this camera system, has made France the first European Union country to legalize such wide-reaching AI-powered surveillance.
Agnes Callamard, Secretary General of Sport & Rights Alliance partner Amnesty International, called out the law’s potential to “amplify racist policing and threaten the right to protest” – a real risk given the Olympic Games’ long history of opening doors for laws that continue to infringe upon civil liberties and human rights long after the Games are over.
Freedom of Expression
The games could also restrict freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, particularly in the context of protests against the games. In the lead-up to the 2024 games, there have already been protests against the displacement of communities and the environmental impact of the games. There is a risk that these protests could be met with excessive force or repression, especially in light of the increased security and surveillance. Given the IOC’s continued lack of clarity on its athlete protest policy (Rule 50) and France’s ban on the wearing of hijab in organized sports, athletes’ rights to free expression also remain at risk.
Paris 2024 During the Olympic Days, in Paris, France, on June 24, 2017. © Ville de Paris / Paris 2024
Going for Gold: Sport for a Better World
The IOC has claimed this Olympics will demonstrate more than ever that “sport has a unique power to help create a better world.” To make this promise a reality, the IOC and the Paris 2024 organizers cannot just focus on environmental sustainability or promoting the health benefits of sport among its citizens. Instead, they must ensure the Games do not cause or contribute to human rights abuses – either in preparation for or during the competition. The IOC must also seek to prevent, mitigate, and provide solutions for negative human rights impacts that are linked to their operations, even if they have not directly contributed.
This includes respecting and protecting labor rights, freedom from discrimination, privacy, freedom of association and expression, and all human rights – and ensuring access to remedy when these rights are violated – for all who attend, work at or compete at Paris 2024.
Explore these resources to learn more about the work to advance human rights in and around Paris 2024 – and stay tuned for additional research, news, and campaigns to get involved.
- Centre for Sport and Human Rights: 2024 Olympic Bid Evaluation – A Human Rights Review of LA and Paris (July 2017)
- Institute for Human Rights and Business: 2024 Olympic Bid Evaluation A Human Rights Review (July 2017)
- Human Rights Watch: Letter to France on Surveillance in Olympic Games Law (Marcy 2023)
- Amnesty International: France: Intrusive Olympics surveillance technologies could usher in a dystopian future (March 2023)