IOC new host contract is gold medal for human rights: HRW

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach waves the Olympic flag during the closing ceremony of the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, Jiangsu province August 28, 2014. REUTERS/Aly Song

BERLIN (Reuters) - Human Rights Watch has heaped unusual praise on the International Olympic Committee for including human rights clauses in new contracts to be signed by future Olympic host cities, saying other organizations should follow suit.

The IOC has for years been criticized by human rights groups including HRW, especially after awarding the Olympic Games to China’s Beijing in 2008 and Russia’s Sochi in 2014.

The latter Games were also tarnished by a Russian anti-gay propaganda law that opponents said curtailed the rights of homosexuals in the country.

“Gold Medal to IOC @Olympics+Thomas Bach for putting human rights in Host City Contracts,” said HRW Director of Global Initiatives in a tweet on Friday, after a meeting with IOC President Thomas Bach at the headquarters in Lausanne this week.

The IOC has added an anti-discrimination clause into the revised host contract to avoid a repeat of the Sochi criticism while also adding one on respecting international standards on labor and environment rights relating to the Games.

“This new language will signify that future Olympic host countries and cities are contractually required, for example, to respect the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights along with international labor laws in relation to key freedoms,” HRW said in a statement.

HRW urged other organizers, including world soccer’s governing body FIFA, which awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar and has faced allegations of human and labor rights violations in the Gulf state, to follow suit.

“Organizers of other international mega-sporting events such as the Asian Games, the new European Games, and the World Cup, administered by the soccer body FIFA, should take immediate steps to include human rights protections in their own host city contracts,” it said.

Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty