Activists for the end of forced labor in China denounce that the IOC (International Olympic Committee) cannot ensure that the Olympic Games merchandise products do not come from Xinjiang and were not made with slave labor.
An activist group called the “Coalition to End Forced Labor in the Uighur Region” accuses the IOC of refusing to discuss the origin of products to be sold during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics (OG) after the United States enacted a law in December stating that all goods from China’s Xinjiang province involve forced labor unless importing companies can prove otherwise.
“The International Olympic Committee (IOC) should immediately disclose what, if any, specific due diligence steps it has taken to identify and eliminate any material produced with Uighur forced labour in Olympic-branded merchandise,” the Coalition said.
Anta Sports is one of the official IOC sportswear suppliers that the activist group denounces for using cotton sourced from the Xinjiang region.
In March 2021, the apparel company defiantly declared, “We have always bought and used cotton produced in China, including Xinjiang cotton, and in the future, we will continue to do so.” But the IOC, in the face of this announcement, gave no sign of having taken any action, the Coalition said.
The group mentions that the Olympic Committee also failed to provide concrete evidence that there are no items made with forced labor among the thousands of products sold or used. “If the IOC is not willing to disclose such steps, then it must explain why it will not,” the Coalition said.
It further charges that shortly before the start of the Beijing Games, the IOC ceased dialogue with the Coalition. Bennett Freeman, one of its members, said: “With one month to go before the start of the Beijing Winter Games, the icy indifference of the IOC to labor and human rights is absolutely chilling.
An email sent by Magali Martowicz, the Olympic committee’s human rights director, to the committee goes some way to illustrating Freeman’s point.
“While the IOC will continue strengthening its work in relation to labor rights, we regret to conclude that your organization and the IOC will not be able to engage in a dialogue this time as a result of differences in approach, including regarding scope, process and confidentiality,” the email said as reported by the NY. Times.
Other Coalition members criticized the IOC for failing to provide fully transparent investigations of forced labor allegations and relying on corporations and the oppressive Chinese Communist regime to investigate themselves.
The Coalition brings together more than 400 organizations from 40 countries and includes family members of people unjustly held in China’s mass detention camps.
Rushan Abbas is one of the activist members of the Coalition. She provided testimony of how the Chinese regime imprisoned her sister in retaliation for a speech she delivered, in September 2018, against abuses perpetrated by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) and expressed criticism of the Olympic Committee’s silence.
“The IOC’s disrespect for directly affected rights-holders, in this case the Uyghur people, is clearly reflected in their unwillingness to engage in reasonable dialogue. We therefore can have no confidence—nor can athletes, sponsors, or virtual spectators have confidence—that any of the thousands of items of Olympic-branded merchandise are not stained with the blood and sweat of my people,” Abbas said Tuesday in the Coalition’s statement.