With the upcoming Sochi Olympics already inundated with questions and controversies, some may consider it a small thing how and where apparel worn by Canadian athletes is made.
Not everyone, thankfully, is willing to turn a blind eye to the issue of garment production on one of the world's largest stages. And it seems neither is the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), although perhaps they could be more vocal about it.
The Toronto Star reports that former Olympian Bruce Kidd is leading a campaign to ensure Team Canada wears only ethically made uniforms, calling of the COC to disclose the names and locations of the factories where the clothing is made.
It is a bit of proactive campaigning that could spare Canada the same types of headlines Team Great Britain received during the London Games, when it was reported much of its kit was made in abusive sweatshops.
The good news is that the COC appears to share the concern, and according to a spokesperson they already have an ethical sourcing policy in place. The policy does not appear online, but some companies including Adidas and Nike were able to provide the locations of the factories where the garments were being made. Others, specifically the Hudson's Bay Company, refused to provide insight.
The issue of ethical garment production jumped in Canadian consciousness earlier this year when it was learned that Loblaw's Joe Fresh was obtaining clothing from a Bangladesh factory that collapsed and killed 500 workers.
Since then, international efforts such as the Maquila Solidarity Network have made inroads to ensure safe working conditions in overseas factories. Earlier this month there was another fire in Bangladesh, this time reportedly affecting a factory connected to Loblaw's and the Hudson's Bay Company.
If the Canadian Olympic Committee is truly taking its ethical sourcing policy seriously, half the battle has already been won. But the Olympics are a massive stage that creates opportunity for many businesses. Ensuring those companies adhere to the ethical sourcing policy as well is the other half of the battle.
The Olympics is supposed to be about giving the world's best a stage on which to shine. That doesn't just go for the athletes.
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