Martina Navratilova is pressing the biggest players in sports to stand for human rights.
It’s no secret that sports governing bodies have a questionable record surrounding their signature events, often leaving communities worse off than when they arrive. In yet another display of athlete activism, tennis star Martina Navratilova is calling these governing bodies on the carpet, pointing to their poor track records and insisting they address and prevent the human rights abuses that occur. Past events like the Olympics and the World Cup have resulted in labor violations, evictions, and even killings, and Navratilova is using her platform to hold the IOC, FIFA, and others responsible.
Speaking to more than 120 governing body officials, Navratilova offered solutions to the issues plaguing these mega events. She notes that the planning time leading up to these events can and should be used to offer meaningful improvements to the lives of locals. She believes reforms should not only attempt to mitigate negative consequences, but they should also actively improve communities.
Navratilova’s message is two-fold. First, she hopes to use sport as a vehicle for positive change for countries around the world. Obviously, sporting events like the Olympics or even the Super Bowl draw massive crowds, wealthy sponsors, and increased consumerism. But, instead of allowing these factors to break down local communities, Navratilova thinks governing bodies should utilize them to empower and elevate people. Second, Navratilova wishes to polish the deteriorating reputation of major sporting events around the world. Having benefited immensely from sport, she knows the power it has to change lives for the better, and she is using her voice to paint these mega events in a better light.
Navratilova is the standard for effective athlete activism. As pro athletes continue to find their voices on the national and international stages, we hope they will look to trailblazers like Navratilova for inspiration and allow her example to guide their personal advocacy.
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