This week marks the opening of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. But even if Rio, a city known for its beauty and party spirit, puts on a good show, it won’t mask the crises facing Brazil and global sport or their root cause: corruption.
In the run-up to the 2014 World Cup, also put on by Brazil, millions of people were on the streets expressing their anger at corruption in in their government and the cost of staging the event. This year there are fewer protests even though little has changed.
On the sporting front, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is facing its greatest dilemma since 1999 following the revelations of state-sponsored doping in Russia (read our related blog post). And although cost overruns at Rio 2016 are not as big as expected, there have been allegations of corruption and human rights abuses.
Not surprisingly, trust in politicians and in sport is at an all-time low. But this is no time to give up or give in to corruption fatigue.
At Transparency International we believe that it is possible to beat corruption in the public and private sectors.
Transparency International and Sport
This year Transparency International devoted the Global Corruption Report, which brings the expertise of the anti‐corruption movement to bear on a specific corruption issue, to sport. The Global Corruption Report: Sport presents more than 60 articles from leading experts on integrity in sport focussing on governance at sports organisations, mega events and match fixing. The report lists comprehensive recommendations to governments, sports organisations and cities considering hosting major events.
At the 8th Commonwealth Sports Ministers meeting in Brazil on 4 August, Deryck Murray, chair of Transparency International’s chapter in Trinidad and Tobago will present the recommendations from the Global Corruption Report: Sport. Murray is a former international cricketer and diplomat who was co-author of Fair Play, Transparency International’s recommendations for reforming cricket’s world governing body.
Gareth Sweeney, editor of the Global Corruption Report: Sport, is addressing the American Bar Association on 4 August on Corruption’s New Arena: International Sports in a Post FIFA World.
Here are three steps that can bring about change and renewed hope in Brazil and re-energise the fight against corruption:
- Continue the ongoing investigations and legal actions associated with the Lava Jato/Carwash corruption scandal. They must not be influenced by the country’s polarised political debate, or interfered with by powerful interests that want to see the failure of the investigations;
- Fast-track the approval by the Congress of the 10 Measure Against Corruption proposed by the Prosecutors and supported by the signatures of over 3 million Brazilians;
- Create a well-resourced National Anti-corruption System that has internal and external oversight bodies like an ombudsman and independent prosecutor offices, and also provides a national institute for access to information, and supports anti-corruption units in the Judiciary.
Across the country we are engaging with state governments and research institutions to test innovative systems to give citizens ways to hold politicians to account and keep tabs on how they spend taxpayers’ money. Fighting corruption takes the same kind of stamina and resilience that athletes need to win medals. Now is not the time to give up.
Editor's note: On 5 August the last line of the boxed text was amended to show the correct date of the American Bar Association event, and a link to a new blog post about Russia's Olympic doping scandal was added in the fourth paragraph.
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