CFP: ‘Human rights & the Olympics, Mega- & Major-Events’ (Duignan & Chalip, 2021)



PUBLISH DATE: 2021-2022.


Dr Michael B. Duignan, Head of Department and Reader in Events, School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, University of Surrey, UK.

Dr Mike Duignan – Video overview of special issue:

Prof Laurence Chalip, Head of Department and Professor in Sports Management, School of Sport, Recreation, and Tourism Management, George Mason University, USA.

Prof Laurence Chalip – Thoughts on human rights and the Olympics, mega- and major-events:


The Olympics, mega- and major- events have a long history of human rights abuse (Amnesty International, 2021a). An increasing body of work over the last two decades have advanced a rights-based agenda in the context of large-scale events (e.g. Caudwell and McGee’s (2017) Special Issue on ‘Human Rights and Events, Leisure and Sport’ and more recently the European Funded ‘Event Rights’ (2020) project). Specific case study works have too sought to frame stakeholder exclusion as a human rights issue, as numerous social groups find have been identified to be exploited in one way or another in the melee of planning, delivery, and in the post-event legacy periods (e.g. Talbot and Carter, 2018; Duignan, Pappalepore and Everett, 2019). Indeed, large scale events too act as a platform for amplifying human rights abuses already existing in the host city and/or country context, as well as those produced as a direct and indirect result of hosting. For example, the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup not only exposed limited national legislation protecting labour rights in Qatar, but this was also evidenced by poor working and living conditions, as well as delayed salaries for those working on the Khalifa Stadium (Amnesty International, 2021b). Occurring over protracted time-periods and geographical boundaries, the host country and city provides a useful incubator to examine human rights issues.

Owners and organisers of large-scale events acutely recognise human rights abuses as a problem that warrants new policy interventions and closer practical relations with host cities and countries, whether that be the Commonwealth Games Foundation’s (2017): ‘Transformation 2022 Strategy – A Human Rights Commitment’, through to the “International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) human rights strategy and policy commitment” (…) looking at “further embedding human rights in the good governance principles, and the establishment of the previously announced Human Rights Advisory Committee.” (IOC, 2020). This is part of a wider movement of large events pressuring hosts to consider embedding principles and objectives aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (2021). Furthermore, local organisingcommittees increasingly work with human rights organisations to tackle specific types of abuses. For example, ‘It’s a Penalty’: an international charity dedicated to raising awareness of human trafficking in host cities, works directly with Olympic venues to screen campaign videos to warn fans of the signs and how to report potential abuses (

This CFP on Human Rights and the Olympics, Mega- and Major-Events hopes to 1) expose significant human rights abuses that have not been adequately amplified to date; 2) bring together a disparate body of work looking at human rights; 3) publish existing and on-going work evaluating the legacy of previous events or looking forward to events in the year of 2021 and beyond; 4) identify good practice, like It’s a Penalty’s work, that illustrates the power of large-scale events for exposing and tackling human rights abuses too; 5) encourage scholars to act as a critical friend and work with policy makers and/or industry to help stimulate positive change.

We are looking for:

  • Multidisciplinary research papers that draw on a range of different ideas, concepts, theories and traditions appropriate to explain the human rights issue under investigation.
  • Scholars may wish to take a global perspective (i.e. by drawing on a range of event examples and cases to illustrate the ubiquity of the human rights abuse), or for example may present a specific human right issue in a specific event case study.
  • All papers must provide a set of policy and/or industry recommendations centred around the following themes:
  • EDUCATE– educating stakeholders and raising awareness of the chosen human rights issue.
  • EQUIP– equipping stakeholders and those affected to help tackle chosen human rights issue.
  • ENCOURAGE– how to encourage stakeholders and those affected to come forward to report chosen human rights issue.

N.B. Clarify how educate, equip, and encourage recommendations have transferability beyond the context you are speaking about to have more universal and/or value across numerous events.

Though this list in not exhaustive, below are examples of human rights issues found across major events:

  • Human trafficking
  • Freedom of speech
  • Labour rights and worker exploitation
  • Lack of personal safety
  •  Poverty and socio-economic deprivation
  • Athlete abuse
  •  LGBTQ+ rights
  • Torture and execution
  • Police brutality
  • Black Lives Matter
  • Forced evictions and displacement
  • Host community disruption
  •  Gentrification and indirect displacement
  • Racism
  •  Sexism

For those looking for a deeper understanding regarding the types of human rights issues and the ways these can be analysed and tackled across the entire lifecycle of major events, we have provided two documents below.


Amnesty International UK. (2021a). Sports and Human Rights. Available at:

Amnesty International UK. (2021b). Qatar World Cup: The ugly side to the beautiful game. Available at:

Commonwealth Games Foundation. (2017). Transformation 2022 Strategy – A Human Rights Commitment. Available at:

Duignan, M.B., Pappalepore, I., & Everett, S. (2019). The ‘summer of discontent’: Exclusion and communal resistance at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Tourism Management, 70, 355-367.

EventRights. (2021). Introduction. Available at:

IOC. (2020). IOC moves forward with its human rights approach. Available at:

It’s a Penalty. (2021). Introduction. Available at:

Raco, M., & Tunney, E. (2010). Visibilities and invisibilities in urban development: Small business communities and the London Olympics 2012. Urban Studies, 47(2), 2069–2091.

Talbot, A., & Carter, T. (2018). Human rights abuses at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Leisure Studies, 37(1), 77–88.


  • Deadline for extended abstracts of max 500 words by 12th March, 2021.

Note: send your abstract to:

  • Confirmations of acceptance/rejection by 19thMarch, 2021.
  • Deadline to submit full paper by 31stAugust, 2021.

If you have any questions, please email:

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