Don’t sacrifice our rainforest for the Olympics!

Indigenous Penan people protesting in Sarawak The indigenous Penan people have been protesting the destruction of their rainforest for years. (© Bruno Manser Fonds)

Sarawak’s indigenous peoples are having their forests stolen: tropical plywood from their ancestral home – in all likelihood from illegally felled trees – is being used to build facilities for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Tell Japan and the IOC that tropical wood has no place in the Olympics!

Call to action

To: Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe IOC President Thomas Bach Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda Organizing Committee of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games President Yoshiro Mori

The Penan people's forest is being felled to build Tokyo's new Olympic facilities. We call on Japan and the IOC to live up to their promise of a green Olympics.

Read letter

On the construction site of the Olympic stadium in Tokyo, environmentalists have discovered sheets of plywood for concrete formwork stamped “SY e-panel”, a label used by Shin Yang – a company deeply implicated in the illegal logging of rainforests on Borneo.

For decades, Borneo’s indigenous Penan people have been fighting the destruction of their rainforest. Yet corrupt politicians and local officials and shady timber companies like Shin Yang are still raking in the millions.

Japan is a major market for the often illegally logged wood, importing 100 million sheets of plywood annually from the Malaysian state of Sarawak on Borneo. Construction companies use the wood for concrete formwork. In December 2014, Global Witness documented the use of Shin Yang tropical plywood on construction sites in Tokyo.

A number of high-profile construction projects are currently in the works: Japan is modernizing its national stadium in Tokyo that will host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020. Other sports facilities are being built or renovated.

Most of the contracts have not yet been finalized at this point. There is a risk that companies that use tropical wood will get lucrative orders for projects related to the Olympics. If they do, then the global sports event will be taking place on the backs of the Penan people.

The discovery of tropical plywood on the construction site of the Olympic stadium shows that this is a very real danger.

Please tell the responsible sports officials and politicians to prohibit the use of tropical wood in building contracts for the Olympics.

The Penan people can only survive if we put a stop to the destruction of their forests.

Back­ground

The Bruno Manser Fund has been fighting rainforest destruction and human rights violations in Sarawak for many years.

Sunset Over Selungo is an intimate insight into a unique way of life built upon centuries of jungle survival. And here is a National Geographic article on the Penan hunter-gatherers of Sarawak.

Letter

To: Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe IOC President Thomas Bach Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda Organizing Committee of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games President Yoshiro Mori

Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe
IOC President Thomas Bach
Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda
Organizing Committee of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games President Yoshiro Mori

The indigenous Penan people of Borneo are fighting to preserve their ancestral rainforest. Thousands of ancient trees have already been felled, with loggers leaving a trail of destruction through the forests of Malaysia. Irreplaceable forest giants are being processed into cheap plywood and exported to Japan. The tropical plywood is being used as a disposable product for concrete formwork on construction sites.

In its bid for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games 2020, Tokyo promised green games with the slogan “Fair Play for Earth”. This pledge must also hold true for preparations such as the modernization of the Kasumigaoka National Stadium and the construction of other venues and the Olympic Village.

Please ensure that companies that use tropical wood are excluded from the awarding of building contracts for the Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games. This would send a strong signal to the construction industry – throughout Japan and beyond.

The Penan people can only survive if we put a stop to the destruction of their forests.

Yours faithfully,

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