FUR FLIES: In its ongoing effort to get fashion brands to stop using fur and exotic skins, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is turning to the International Olympic Committee for support ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympics.
In a letter to IOC president Thomas Bach on Monday, the animal rights group’s vice president for the U.K, Europe and Australia, Mimi Bekhechi, urged the committee to “only accept sponsorship from LVMH or any other fashion company if it agrees to stop selling fur and exotic skins,” citing these materials as sources of risk for future pandemics.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games were postponed to July 2021 due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics were held behind closed doors, with few to no spectators.
Although LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton supported Paris’ 2016 bid to host the upcoming Summer Olympics, there has been no announcement of any sponsorship agreements between the committee in charge of organizing the Games in Paris and the luxury group. Confirmed sponsors of the 2024 Olympics include public bank BPCE, retailer Carrefour and telecoms company Orange.
Bekhechi claimed that the COVID-19 virus had “spread like wildfire” in fur farms, where cramped conditions “hastened the spread [of the virus] to both humans and wild animals,” including “a dangerous mutation that threatened the efficacy of vaccines.”
She further alleged that the French luxury conglomerate is “well aware” that animals “endure conditions comparable to those at wet markets in Wuhan, where the COVID-19 pandemic is believed to have originated,” and references prior claims on how workers in LVMH’s supply chain killed pythons, based on a PETA Asia investigation.
Citing fashion houses like Chanel, which said in 2018 it was halting the use of exotic skins, Bekhechi alleged LVMH “had so far failed to act responsibly and continued to risk the public’s health with its mink coats and python bags.”
“It would be unconscionable for the next Olympic Games to be sponsored by a company that supports these dangerous industries,” she continued, calling the proposed requirement “a matter of global social responsibility.”
In an emailed response on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the IOC stated that “all Olympic Games organizers have to develop and implement a sustainable sourcing code,” referring to their counterpart in Paris for the exact details on the city’s 2024 sourcing code and commercial program.
The IOC requirement, which applies to “all current editions of the Games,” states in a June 2018 document that host cities are to “[establish] responsible sourcing practices for goods and services, including those from national sponsors and licensees by integrating sustainability considerations into each stage of the procurement process, with mechanisms in place to ensure the requirements are effectively met.”
A Paris 2024 organizing committee spokesperson stated Wednesday they were “not in a position to comment on a subject which is not related to Paris 2024,” but that the host city took “its social responsibilities seriously.”
In February, Louis Vuitton reinforced its commitment to using exotic skins in its handbags, with the official inauguration of its two most recent leather goods workshops in the Loir-et-Cher region in central France.