Fair Play for Housing Rights: mega-events, Olympic Games and housing rights (complete report)
The potential of mega-events such as the Olympic Games to foster cooperation and dialogue among the world’s peoples and nations is indisputable.
Through the bringing together of humanity in all its diversity to celebrate excellence in sport and other pursuits, such events can promote peace and global solidarity. However, the staging of mega-events can also have the opposite effect. For example, they can result in human rights violations, such as the forced eviction of many thousands of people from their homes, causing severe hardship and misery.
This unfortunate, darker side of mega-events stands in stark contrast to the admirable universal ideals that are often cited at their opening ceremonies.
In 2003 the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) raised the alarm on the terrible impact that preparations for the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens were having upon multiple Romani communities who were being evicted from their settlements.
Our concerns about the suffering being inflicted upon these communities, and the difficulties experienced in getting the Greek authorities to take the problem seriously, reminded us of many others who had been similarly affected by the hosting of major sporting and other events. We had seen this problem before, over and over again, in every city hosting the Olympics; and in many other cities hosting other types of mega-events, such as World Fairs or Expos, IMF conferences, even beauty pageants.
Our anger at the many examples of communities and individuals who had been forcibly evicted from their homes and lands in order to make way for sports stadiums, new hotels, car parks, or pretty façades, prompted COHRE to initiate the Mega-Events, Olympic Games and Housing Rights Project.
[Abstract adapted from author]