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No gold medal for China in this event

PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP As it gears up for the 2008 Olympics, China is quickly falling into last place in one category that won’t be on the schedule in Beijing: labor rights. Just in time for World Day Against Child Labor, PlayFair 2008, a campaign sponsored by trade unions and labor rights organizations, issued a scathing report ...

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PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP

As it gears up for the 2008 Olympics, China is quickly falling into last place in one category that won’t be on the schedule in Beijing: labor rights.

Just in time for World Day Against Child Labor, PlayFair 2008, a campaign sponsored by trade unions and labor rights organizations, issued a scathing report (pdf) Monday on China’s rampant child labor violations and sweatshop conditions.

Through a series of interviews and undercover investigations of four factories licensed to make official Olympic merchandise, PlayFair discovered working children as young as twelve, adult workers earning half the Chinese minimum wage, and workers being instructed to lie about wages and conditions to outside inspectors.

The report’s release coincides nicely with International Olympics Committee meetings in London regarding the 2012 games. As Maggie Burns, chair of one of the labor groups backing PlayFair, told the Financial Times:

The London Olympics has just spent £400,000 [€590,000/$788,000] on a logo. There is no reason why organisers cannot ensure a “sweat-free” games if they act now.

One can only hope that these efforts to fight worker exploitation will be a bit more successful than the design of the 2012 logo.

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