In 2020, as in every previous year, the firm has been committed to provide free legal services in the public interest (pro bono) in an effort to promote the legal rights of underrepresented groups for whom it is difficult to access justice and fair treatment. We consider it our personal and professional responsibility to contribute to the needs of good global citizenship.
A highlight of our 2020 pro bono activities was our support of the Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation (“BSSF”), an initiative group representing the interests of a large group of Belarusian professional athletes who have been suffering from systematic discrimination by Belarus public authorities after they had taken an active stance against the political developments in Belarus following the elections in August 2020.
On behalf of BSSF, we provided an Amicus Curiae Brief to the International Olympic Committee (“IOC”) to support the BSSF’s position that the National Olympic Committee (“NOC”) of Belarus (led by the President of the Republic of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko) has been acting as an accomplice of the public authorities and must be sanctioned by the IOC for failing to promote and protect fundamental principles and values of Olympism.
On 7 December 2020, having taken note of the information provided to it (including our letter), the Executive Board of the IOC announced provisional measures against the NOC of Belarus on 7 December 2020. These provisional measures included the exclusion of members of the Executive Board of the NOC of Belarus (including its President Alexander Lukashenko) from all IOC events and activities, including the Olympic Games. It further included the suspension of all financial payments to the NOC of Belarus (with payments, instead, being made directly to the athletes) and the suspension of any discussions regarding the hosting of future IOC events in Belarus.
The IOC’s actions are embedded in its continuous efforts to address human rights issues in sport, and to implement a human rights strategy within its scope of responsibility to protect the Olympic Movement and Olympic values.
Our Amicus Curiae Brief can be found here.
The IOC’s full decision to take interim measures against the NOC of Belarus can be found here.