HUman trafficking and major sporting events

Human Trafficking and Major Sporting Events

Major sporting events—such as the Olympics, World Cup, and Super Bowl—provide both an opportunity to raise awareness about human trafficking as well as a challenge to identify trafficking victims and prosecute traffickers who take advantage of these events. Successful anti-trafficking efforts must be comprehensive and sustainable, addressing both labor and sex trafficking conditions before, during, and after such events.

Prior to the Event: Major sporting events often entail massive capital improvement and infrastructure projects, creating a huge demand for cost-effective labor and materials. Governments and civil society can take steps to prevent this significant increase in construction from being accompanied by an increase in forced labor. Governments should ensure labor laws meet international standards, regulate labor recruitment agencies, and frequently inspect construction sites for violations of labor laws. To prepare for the 2012 Olympics in London, the London Councils, a government association in the United Kingdom, commissioned a report on the potential impact of the Olympics on human trafficking. Governments in countries hosting major sporting events may wish to consider similar analyses to identify potential gaps in human trafficking responses. These strategies will be particularly important in countries planning to host future Olympics (Brazil in 2016, South Korea in 2018, and Japan in 2020) and World Cup tournaments (Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022).

Game Day: Increased commerce, tourism, and media attention accompany major sporting events. Unfortunately, there is a lack of hard data on the prevalence of human trafficking—including sex trafficking —associated with these events. Governments and civil society—including the airline and hospitality sectors—can collaborate to combat trafficking by launching media campaigns, training law enforcement officials and event volunteers, and establishing partnerships to recognize indicators of human trafficking and to identify victims. Additional data collection of human trafficking surrounding major sporting events will inform future anti-trafficking efforts.

After the Event Concludes: Modern slavery is a 365-day-a-year crime that requires a 365-day-a-year response. Traffickers do not cease operations once a sporting event concludes, and stadiums and surrounding areas can remain popular destinations for travel and tourism. The lasting effect of anti-trafficking efforts associated with major sporting events can be even more important than the impact of those efforts during the event itself. This ripple effect can take the form of enhanced partnerships between law enforcement officials, service providers, and the tourism industry, or simply sports fans sustaining the anti-trafficking efforts that they learned about during the event

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