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Sport and Human Rights


Event Status

All sorts of lofty ideals are projected onto the world of competitive sport. Sport is supposed to unite people across races and cultures. It’s supposed to deliver us role models. It’s supposed to provide a common talking point across social divides. Our expectations of sporting figures and sporting events sometimes seem unreasonably high and, at other times, contemptibly low.

What happens when we examine these expectations through the lens of human rights?

Can sporting boycotts embarrass governments into addressing human rights abuses? What are the costs of major sporting events like the Olympic Games and the World Cup in terms of human displacement? How well do events such as the Paralympics enhance the human rights of people with disabilities?

And, what toll does public scrutiny play on the personal lives of athletes? Does the demand that athletes act as model citizens – or model representatives for racial or cultural minorities – infringe on their personal freedom and privacy?

Presented in partnership with the Human Rights Law Centre.


Hugh de Kretser

Hugh de Kretser is the Executive Director of the Human Rights Law Centre. He has worked on family violence, sexual assault and criminal justice issues for over a decade across his current role and previously as Executive Officer of the Victorian Federation of Community Legal Centres (2007–2013) an... Read more

Beverly Knight

Beverly Knight is the Managing Director of Alcaston Gallery in Melbourne. A recognised trail-blazer in Indigenous sport, Beverly was the first female director of an AFL club, serving as Director of the Essendon Football Club for 17 years (1993 – 2010).  Knight is recognised for her exper... Read more

Belinda Clark

Belinda Clark played cricket for Australia from 1991 to 2005. She was the first player, male or female, to make a double century in a one-day international.  She was named Cricketer of the Year in the inaugural edition of Wisden Australia, and was made a Member of the Order of Australia in... Read more

Francis Leach

Francis Leach is a broadcaster and journalist. He co-hosts the breakfast show with David Schwarz on 1116 SEN sports radio in Melbourne and is a regular panellist on ABC TV’s The Offsiders and Ten’s The Project. For the last four years Francis was part of the ABC Grand... Read more


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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Centre stands. We acknowledge and pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their Elders, past and present, as the custodians of the world’s oldest continuous living culture.