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The 2014 Sochi Olympics are controversial for many reasons from terrorist threats, to anti-gay actions, to the mass killing off stray dogs. While watching the impressive opening ceremonies last week, I was overwhelmed by the grandeur and saga-like performances by the Russians but I got to thinking about the ethics of international events such as the Winter games?
What about the sourcing and production of the uniforms worn by athletes, volunteers, and performers? What about the treatment of the environment and workers involved in the production of such events and locations?
We saw lots of fur during the ceremonies and lots of unique outfits. Personally, I found the sea of Red resulting from the HBC Canadian outfits and the luxurious look of Lacoste-designed French outfits to be the best of the ceremony outfits. While they showed country pride, what did they say about our countries?
During the 2008 games, the Hudson Bay Company came into public shame when it was revealed that the Canadian uniforms were actually produced in China. The United States faced a similar outcry. For this year’s games, Ralph Lauren, the producers of the American uniform revealed that every article of clothing made for the American was created by America craftspeople and manufacturers. Similarly, Dimitri Soudas, executive director of the Canadian Olympic Committee, tweeted on October 30, 2013 that all HBC clothing worn by the country’s Olympians is made in Canada. While this statement was mostly true, the reality was that eighty-five per cent of the clothes made for athletes were made in Canada and the remainder in China.
Is this good enough? We have to applaud the Americans for being entirely local and fair-trade in the production of their uniforms. Should we be impressed by the progress made by the Canadians?
In an international event such as the Olympics, which celebrates athleticism, pride and nations of the world coming together for peaceful competition and progress, we should be considering issues such as the ethics behind the clothing and equipment used. We should support local, fair-trade and environmental standards. Wearing cruelty-based materials, using products produced in unsafe working conditions that result in unfair wages for producers and supporting the idea of fast fashion should not be the ideals of the Olympics.
We need to continue encouraging our governments to consider the ethics of how we represent our nations and perhaps in the 2016 Olympics we will see more fashionable uniforms that make us proud not just for our nation, but for the ethics behind our actions.
Valentine’s Day – Just a Few Days Away!
As we get ready to wrap up our #Globallove campaign for 2014 – we wanted to remind you to think ethical on this special day.