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Article

14 Feb 2022

Author:
Human Rights Watch,
Author:
Coalition to End Forced Labour in the Uyghur Region

China: International Olympic Committee (IOC) criticised for not conducting adequate human rights due diligence to address risks of forced labour surrounding Winter Games

"China: IOC Can’t Ensure Olympic Apparel Is Abuse-Free", 14 February 2022

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) did not conduct adequate human rights due diligence to address the risk that Olympic uniforms and other products for the Beijing Winter Games aren’t linked to grave rights violations in China’s Uyghur region, the Coalition to End Forced Labour in the Uyghur Region (EUFL) and Human Rights Watch said today...

An IOC statement describing the due diligence it conducted on suppliers ahead of Beijing 2022...contained significant gaps, including inadequate transparency of audit results and lack of analysis of suppliers’ responsible sourcing practices. The IOC also did not explain how it assesses whether suppliers are complicit in human rights abuses across their broader business, including for non-IOC products. Human Rights Watch and the Coalition wrote to the IOC on January 31 to request additional information but have not received a reply....

The statement discussed two companies in particular, Hengyuanxiang Group (HYX Group) and Anta Sports, which US lawmakers said...continued to use cotton produced in Xinjiang. Anta Sports quit the Better Cotton Initiative in March 2021 and said it would continue sourcing from Xinjiang. The company’s website says it has measures in place to monitor suppliers, including risks of forced labor.

The IOC said it conducted third-party audits of its suppliers’ production sites, including HYX Group and Anta, and did not find any forced, bonded, indentured, or child labor. It also said it asked for “proof of origin” for materials used in apparel and footwear products. The IOC included a statement from HYX Group that the cotton it uses for IOC uniforms does not originate in China and one from Anta Sports saying that the IOC uniforms do not contain cotton...

The IOC’s statement on its due diligence contained only limited information, with no details about the factories and production sites visited, the audit methodology and findings, or the steps taken to ensure that workers were not subject to reprisals for speaking to auditors or reporting violations...

The IOC’s statement also included no information on what steps, if any, the IOC took to verify companies’ claims about the origin of the materials used in IOC products. The IOC provided no information on whether and how it analyzed suppliers’ responsible sourcing practices, including their systems for tracing and tracking each level of their supply chains, for conducting human rights due diligence over their suppliers, and identifying forced labor in their supply chains.

The IOC also did not explain the steps it takes to ensure that suppliers with operations or supply chains in Xinjiang are not complicit in human rights or labor rights abuses in their broader business, including for non-Olympics products...

By focusing only on the uniforms and gifts it sources directly, the IOC also did not discuss the thousands of products procured by the Beijing Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games (BOCOG) and that bear the five rings or Olympics brand...

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