Recent reports from Greece of sexual abuse of athletes by officials of Greek sport federations are the latest in a growing number of cases highlighting violations that require urgent attention and action.
Greece has extremely proud sporting traditions and occupies an important place in sport’s history. It is certainly not alone in confronting abuses against athletes.
The decision by Olympic Gold Medallist Sofia Bekatorou to speak out about her experience of sexual assault by an official from the Hellenic Sailing Federation took courage and has caused other Greek athletes to come forward to share similar experiences of sexual abuse.
Barriers to athletes speaking out against such abuses are significant and highlight the need for all sport to develop clear standards and stronger accountability measures. Athletes need to know that federations will take a zero-tolerance approach to abuse and will protect reporting athletes. Federations need to establish clear reporting structures for such cases.
The Centre for Sport and Human Rights continues to monitor such cases as they emerge and is committed to supporting all those committed to reforms that are consistent with international human rights standards. We welcome announcements from Greece that investigations will now open and formal processes will be implemented to address the allegations made by Greek athletes. For such an investigation to be capable of creating systemic and lasting change, it must be accompanied by a consultative and transparent process. This should include
- Publishing the Terms of Reference of proposed investigations
- Committing to publishing a full version of findings;
- Fully engaging all affected stakeholders, and in particular ensuring that victims and survivors can safely feed into investigations by taking an affected person-centric approach;
- An unequivocal commitment from leadership to improve sport culture, practices and processes, including by allocating additional resources to tackling abuse and harassment;
- Setting a clear timeframe by which new or revised standards relating to these matters will be released as well as systems through which sport federations will hold themselves to account for effective implementation.
We call for emergency support and response systems for any and all athletes coming forward to report sexual and other forms of abuses to ensure a safe and supportive environment for all involved.