EventRights: Major Sport Events and Human Rights
After what felt like a very long wait (4 or 5 months) I was delighted to receive an email in July confirming that a research and knowledge exchange project I’ve helped design had been funded by the European Commission under its Horizon 2020 MSCA RISE stream. In the intensely competitive HEI environment we occupy it’s quite rare to receive such good news, especially when going for European funding. That said, we felt we had a good topic area (major sporting events and human rights) and a really strong consortium, including European parters: Coventry University, UK (PI, Ian Brittain); University of the West of Scotland, UK (me!); Technical University of Munich, Germany (Joerg Konigstorfer); Gothenburg University, Sweden (Erik Lundberg); University of Peloponnese, Greece (Konstantinos Georgiadis; International Olympic Academy, Greece and international partners: North Carolina State University, United States (Jason Bocarro and Mike Edwards); Western University, Canada (Laura Misener); Waseda University, Japan (Mano Yoshiyuki); and, FGV, Brazil (Marcelo Cortes Neri).
This four-year project, titled EventRights, will involved researchers from partner institutions visiting each on mobilities (minimum 1 month) to learn from each others’ expertise in the realm of ‘rights’ as related to sport and sport events. EventRights will seek to explore, and share knowledge, on the extent to which the landscape of major sport events (MSEs) can be improved to ensure a progressive, rights-focused agenda is pursued by awarding organizations, host governments and implemented in the formal institutions tasked with organizing these events. The project will produce recommendations as to how MSE organizing committees, awarding bodies, and the local/national state can be mandated to ensure that opportunities to address inequality, enhance diversity and facilitate greater dialogue are enshrined in the planning, delivery, and legacy plans for the events themselves. We extend previous evidence provided in the scientific literature, practice, and public policy in three ways: (1) we refer to the different stages that determine social outcomes of MSEs; (2) we study the peculiarities of the different stakeholders that are involved in MSE management from an interdisciplinary perspective, providing insights into the different facets of the concept; and (3) we build up sustainable platforms for learning and knowledge sharing across European countries.
Based on gaps in the current body of knowledge (e.g. Misener et al., 2015) that have prevented a rich understanding of how processes within the bidding, planning and delivery of MSEs can improve social outcomes and taking into consideration the policy and practice priorities of the EU, the EventRights project will focus on two principal research questions:
RQ1: How can the bidding, planning and delivery processes for MSEs more effectively protect and promote the rights of affected groups, reducing inequality, enhancing diversity and facilitating meaningful dialogue between the stakeholders?
RQ2: How can an appropriate suite of research methods to help better understand the impact of MSEs on human rights be developed and utilised to create the conditions for change?
There will be much more to be said about the project in the coming months, including announcements concerning our annual symposium, a proposed edited book and a web portal to ensure academics, policy makers and a broader public can access and contribute to the project’s activities.