For Sports Fans, the Olympic Games are fascinating – from Eddie the Eagle to Usain Bolt, they never fail to provide iconic moments and create global stars. From a lawyer’s perspective the Olympics are just as interesting when watching the impact of the law on the Games and those involved.
In the run up to the Rio Olympics, the major legal question was whether Russian athletes would be allowed to compete after a World Anti-Doping Agency report (compiled by a leading Sports Lawyer) concluded that Russia had run a state-sponsored doping programme across the majority of Olympic sports. Some of the report’s findings, including that Russian secret agents worked in anti-doping laboratories disguised as sewage and plumbing contractors, were truly astonishing! The report placed Russia’s participation in the Games in doubt but ultimately approximately 70% of Russia’s Olympic Team were cleared to compete.
Then at the Games, a number of athletes unfortunately fell foul of Brazilian Law, including ten Australian athletes who were arrested for tampering with their Olympic accreditation passes to try and get better seats for the Australian men’s basketball semi-final! The Australian athletes were detained for ten hours and had to pay hefty fines to secure their release.
Twelve-time Olympic medallist Ryan Lochte also sparked controversy after claiming to have been robbed at gun-point in Rio by men with a police-badge. The American swimmer’s claims were later proved to have been fabricated and Brazilian police have recommended that Lochte face charges for providing false testimony.
Closer to home, the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) President was arrested in Rio in relation to the alleged mis-selling of Olympic tickets. Pat Hickey remains in Brazil, where the local authorities are still compiling evidence and criminal charges are now being brought.
On a lighter note, you may have raised an eyebrow if you happened to see the lifeguards working at the Olympic swimming pool. This was due to Brazilian law requiring a lifeguard to be present at any swimming pool beyond a certain size, meaning lifeguards were actually being paid to sit in some of the best seats in the house. Not surprisingly the lifeguards were not required!
Before the dust had even settled in Rio, the next Games in Tokyo have already become embroiled in allegations of corruption and overspending…time for the lawyers to spring into action again!