This evening the XXX Olympic Games will start in London. London has organized the Olympic Games twice: in 1908 and 1948. How will the Court of Arbitration for Sports be involved in Olympic Games in general and in the London Olympics in particular?

"Because the IOC and each IF seek to apply and enforce a set of uniform rules consistently worldwide, the prospect of different national courts reaching inconsistent conclusions on the merits of Olympic and international sports disputes is a significant problem. (....) Olympic and international sports competition requires uniform and generally accepted rules governing on-field competition that are interpreted, applied, and enforced by independent and impartial referees, umpires, or judges whose decisions are final. Similarly, the resolution of disputes arising out of Olympic and international sports competition also requires an off-field legal system pursuant to which an independent international tribunal or court with specialized sports law expertise renders final and binding decisions having global recognition and effect."

 The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) was originally founded by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). However, the CAS structure and procedure changed substantially in 1994 into an independent body funded and administered by the International Council of Arbitration for Sport (ICAS). CAS operates an Ordinary Arbitration Division for sports disputes in the first instance and an Appeals Arbitration Division which reviews the decisions of International Sports Federations (IFs) and other sports organisations. CAS may also issue advisory opinions.

CAS provides also ad hoc divisions to hear urgent disputes arising out of every Olympic Games. In CAS ad hoc Division arbitration, the governing law is the Olympic Charter, the applicable regulations, general principles of law and the rules of law, the application of which it deems appropriate.

The CAS ad hoc Division, which was first introduced at the 1996 Atlanta Games, will provide all athletes in the Games with free access to justice. Athletes who wish to register a dispute during the London Olympic Games 2012 under Rule 59 of the Olympic Charter must do so with the London office of CAS, which will be based at the Grosvenor Hotel in Park Lane. CAS will appoint a three-person panel to adjudicate on decisions within 24 hours after hearing evidence from all those involved. The panel will have two UK-based lawyers – Stuart McInnes and Graeme Mew – and the office will be headed up by Secretary General Matthieu Reeb.

The United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards provides for judicial recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitration awards, including CAS awards, by national courts. Parties to a sport dispute who are unsatisfied with the result provided by a validly constituted and conducted arbitration are not to be entitled to re-litigate that dispute.

The development of lex sportiva by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and International Sports Federations (IFs) is shaping the nature and scope of legal protection of the athlete's opportunity to participate in the Olympic Games.

I would like to end this blog mentioning most recent CAS cases concerning the London Olympic Games:

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