The International Olympic Committee is facing criticism over its lack of discussion regarding its potential involvement with companies working in the Xinjiang province of China, where human rights abuses against ethnic minorities are taking place.
A human rights organization has pushed the committee to answer questions.
The Wall Street Journal reported that “[t]he group, the Coalition to End Forced Labor in the Uyghur Region, said Tuesday that the Swiss-based IOC hasn’t offered credible evidence that Olympic-branded apparel was made without forced labor from China’s cotton-farming Xinjiang region. The group has been a leading voice in a global push to raise awareness of allegations of human-rights abuses in the region.”
The organization has stated that it is concerned about Anta Sports Products Ltd., which is a mega Chinese sports apparel company and the official supply company of IOC uniforms and other clothing for the Beijing Games.
Last year, Anta reportedly said it would continue to utilize the cotton from Xinjiang, an area of China about which there are serious human rights concerns, where Uyghurs and ethnic minority groups are held in forced labor camps and reportedly subject to genocide and abuse, including horrific birth control efforts.
“Beijing denies the allegations. Anta didn’t respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. It had previously declined to comment on concerns over forced labor in Xinjiang,” the Journal noted.
The Journal added:
In a statement, the IOC said that a recent third-party audit of its Anta-provided uniforms “demonstrated no issue in relation to forced labor.” It said it works with suppliers to raise awareness of its criteria for sustainable sourcing, while also carrying out “targeted due diligence.”
The New York Times reported that the group pushed the committee to discuss their concerns. Officials from the IOC eventually said that they would meet, but just for an “active listening exercise” instead of giving information. The discussion would also need to be kept secret.
Late last month, the Times reported, the IOC decided against meeting at all.
“While the I.O.C. will continue strengthening its work in relation to labor rights,” Magali Martowicz, the Olympic committee’s head of human rights, said in its email, “we regret to conclude that your organization and the I.O.C. 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 Times looked at the materials between the IOC and the group.
The IOC has reportedly been more willing to engage with human rights issues in other countries, but appears to have less of a desire to push back against China.
Last month, the United States announced it would be holding an official diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
“The Biden administration will not send any diplomatic or official representation to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games, given the PRC’s ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity,” Psaki told the press.
President Biden signed his Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act into law last month, as well.
The Daily Wire reported:
The law, introduced in 2020 by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), stipulates that no goods made with slave labor from Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang province will make it to the U.S., according to a press release from Rubio’s office.
“This is the most important and impactful action taken thus far by the United States to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for their use of slave labor,” Rubio said. “It will fundamentally change our relationship with Beijing. This law should also ensure that Americans no longer unknowingly buy goods made by slaves in China. I look forward to working with the Biden Administration and my colleagues to ensure the new law is implemented correctly and enforced properly.”
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