Sebastian Coe: Qatar to be held accountable for human rights record

Qatar will be held to account over its human rights record following Doha’s successful bid to host the 2019 World Championships, IAAF vice-president Sebastian Coe vowed on Wednesday.

The Qatari capital edged out Barcelona and the American city of Eugene last month in a secret ballot by council members of world governing body the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

The decision was attacked by human rights groups due to concerns over the Gulf state’s treatment of migrant workers, following widespread condemnation of conditions for labourers working on projects for the 2022 football World Cup.

When Coe, who headed the organising committee for the 2012 London Olympics, was asked if the IAAF would take a strong line with Qatar over workers’ rights, he replied: “Yes, absolutely.

“And (we will be) as tough as we were in London in terms of controlling the supply chain as well as we possibly could, making sure that everything that was delivered in merchandising terms across the board was done to the best and the highest possible standards.

“It is a discussion I had as chairman of the (IAAF) evaluation committee with the sports minister and interior minister in Qatar. So it is something we will monitor very, very closely.”

Addressing reporters in London on the day he launched his bid for the IAAF presidency, the 58-year-old added: “I recognise that there are political implications about taking sport into different environments and with that falls responsibility to international federations.

“Labour conditions and how your event is delivered are very important issues for federations and particularly for young people.

“And if we are engaging with young people, they sit at the moral hotspots of all those big global issues and it is absolutely essential sport confronts them.”

Hundreds of migrant labourers have died in Qatar in recent years. Last month the country’s labour ministry said it would introduce new legislation by early 2015 to improve migrant conditions for workers.

Shortly before the vote on the venue for the World Championships, Qatar promised the IAAF a sponsorship package worth $37 million (30 million euros), but Coe denied there had been any impropriety.

“We can’t be encouraging the globalisation of our sport and then as soon as we get to some tough decisions, we retrench into our own back yard,” said the two-time Olympic 1,500 metres champion, who is the chairman of the British Olympic Association.

“The issue is a very simple one — yeah, they put some incentives on the table, they’ve come to the table with two global partners for the sport, with a commitment to build 10 tracks around the world.

“Did that impress some of my council colleagues? Undoubtedly it did. Did it sway their vote? I think probably not.”

Doha’s acquisition of hosting rights for the World Championships reflects Qatar’s determination to establish itself as a major player in global sport.

The energy-rich state is also staging this month’s World Short-course Swimming Championships, the 2015 World Handball Championship and the 2016 World Road Cycling Championships.

It also owns French football champions Paris Saint-Germain, while state-owned airline Qatar Airways is the principal sponsor of Spanish giants Barcelona.

An investigation by world football’s governing body FIFA into the bidding process for the 2022 World Cup last month cleared Qatar of wrongdoing.

But American lawyer Michael Garcia, whose report into corruption claims surrounding the process provided the basis for the investigation, disowned its findings and vowed to appeal against them.

The Times of India

Photo by Raytohgraphy

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