From the TUC

Playfair 2012: Campaigning for a sweat-free Olympics

29 May 2012, By

John Carlos visits Congress House to talk about human rights and the Olympic Games.

Workers’ rights are human rights. The public face of the Olympics are the athletes and competitors, but without the workers who build the stadium, mine the metal for the medals, and make the equipment and sportswear – there wouldn’t be an Olympic Games.

I believe that ensuring respect for the human rights of these workers should be at the heart of the Games. They shouldn’t have to put up with discrimination, their wages should enable them to live in dignity, and they should be free to come together in unions to bargain for better conditions.

It is frustrating to me that despite the Olympic Movement promoting values of ‘equality’ and ‘respect’, little is being done to challenge the powers that preserve the inequality and discrimination we see around us.

When I took my stand at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics as part of the Civil Rights Movement, and in solidarity with those living under Apartheid in South Africa and blue collar workers in the States, the International Olympic Committee said that this was “a deliberate and violent breach of the fundamental principles of the Olympic spirit”.

Violence comes in many forms. Evidence shows that workers making Olympic goods for the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympics continue to be exploited. They are paid poverty wages, are forced to work excessively long hours, may work in hazardous conditions and have no voice in the work place. The International Olympic Committee has done virtually nothing to end this exploitation and abuse for decades and are effectively colluding with the systematic exploitation that is taking place in the name of the Olympic Games.

I’m pleased to learn that London 2012 has taken some steps to try to protect workers’ rights, and it’s vital we don’t lose this energy and momentum.

Stand together with me to call on the International Olympic Committee to ensure that the human rights of all workers involved in making the Games possible are respected – so we can have an Olympic Games that really does symbolise justice and peace.

GUEST POST: John Carlos is an American human rights and labour rights activist, and former track and field athlete and professional football player. He was a founder of the Olympic Project for Human Rights, and as bronze-medal winner in the 200 meters at the 1968 Summer Olympics, his Black Power salute on the podium with Tommie Smith has become one of the enduring images of sport as a focus for human rights activism.

One Response to Playfair 2012: Campaigning for a sweat-free Olympics

  1. Playfair 2012 » Video & blog: John Carlos, Olympic legend, on his fight for justice and supporting Playfair 2012
    May 29th 2012, 4:00 pm

    […] John Carlos’ blog about his struggle and why he supports the Playfair 2012 […]