By Nick Butler in Lausanne

Human Rights Watch have praised the IOC for Host City Contract changes ©HRWHuman Rights Watch has claimed other organisations should follow the lead of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in ensuring non-discrimination and ethical standards in Host City contracts.

This contrasts from the huge criticism of the IOC by human rights groups in recent times, particularly ahead of Beijing 2008 and Sochi 2014, where anti-gay rights legislation introduced into the Russian Parliament provoked vast condemnation in the build-up.

But in their new Contract, sent to the contenders in the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic race but only released into the public domain by Oslo, before the Norwegian capital withdrew, sections relating to discrimination, the environment and labour laws were included. 

"The IOC decision to include human rights protections in future host city contracts raises the bar for all sports federations," Human Rights Watch Director of Global Initiatives, Minky Worden, said.

"This is a sign of changing times in global sport.

"FIFA and other international sports federations should immediately follow the IOC's lead."

In a tweet today, Worden added: "Gold Medal to IOC @Olympics+Thomas Bach for putting human rights in Host City Contracts".

Human Rights Watch had criticised the International Olympic Committee's stance in the past, particularly ahead of Sochi 2014, but have now praised it ©Getty ImagesHuman Rights Watch had criticised the International Olympic Committee's stance in the past, particularly ahead of Sochi 2014, but have now praised it ©Getty Images

In the preamble to the Contact, a distinct call prohibiting "any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise", is included.

Clause 21 states: "The City, the NOC and the OCOG (Organising Committee) shall take all necessary measures to ensure that development projects necessary for the organisation of the Games comply with local, regional and national legislation and international agreements and protocols, applicable in the Host Country with regard to planning, construction, protection of the environment, health and safety and labour laws".

This praise comes a day after the conclusion of a key IOC Executive Board meeting in Montreux, after which IOC President Thomas Bach claimed the ongoing Agenda 2020 reform process is seeking to enhance "sustainability" and "credibility" as well as "youth".
But the Host City Contract changes have not been met with universal approval with some figures, including Federation of Gay Games vice-president for external affairs, Marc Naimark, when writing in insidethegames this week, claiming they are not enough. 

He believes the alterations involve semantics more than anything else and that little has really changed. 

This is also something alluded to by Human Rights Watch, who, in their statement praising the changes, described "implementation" as key, "especially with repressive Governments of China and Kazakhstan as finalists to host the 2022 Winter Olympics".

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