Sponsors need to do more to tackle human rights

Global event sponsors need to do more to address the issue of human rights in host cities, according to a survey undertaken by Calacus at the International Sport Convention in Geneva last week.

Only 12% of respondents believe that big brands do enough to tackle some of the challenges that face inhabitants ahead of major sporting events, with Amnesty International suggesting that freedom of expression is suppressed, people are forcibly evicted from their houses without compensation and construction workers building stadia are exploited.

A staggering 55% said that brands do not do enough while 33% were undecided.

While the figures paint a disappointing picture, they do provide brands with an opportunity to do more to tell their story and to provide tangible benefits for local communities.

Tellingly, only 31% of respondents think that fast food brands should be permitted to sponsor major sports events, despite the fact that the likes of Coca-Cola and McDonald’s do some superb work at grassroots level supporting young people.

There have been suggestions that the Olympic movement has actually helped both brands to develop healthier ranges of products and to run campaigns that show consumers a different side to their business.

Certainly more needs to be done for brands to get their messages across and for more brand ambassadors to promote the moves they are making to benefit sport rather than just sell junk food. 

While hosting the World Cup or Olympic Games in new territories opens up under-developed markets for brands, more than half of the respondents at ISC believe that in future only major developed nations and cities will be able to bid for blue riband global events.

With the inauguration of a new U.S. President and uncertainty surrounding Brexit, 55% of delegates interviewed said that they believed only major developed cities could bid for the Olympic Games, for instance, in future.

Given IOC President Thomas Bach’s hopes to spread the impact of the Olympic Movement, it will be interested to see how future bids develop.

The World Athletics Championships are to be hosted in London next summer, remember, but worryingly, more than 50% of respondents think that Brexit will have a long-term impact on investment in sport business in the UK.

It remains to be seen what impact the withdrawal of the UK from Europe will have on potential investment and hosting of events in future, but it seems as if the current feeling is one of uncertainty and concern.