A gold medal in forest destruction?

The Tokyo Olympics have been portrayed as “the greenest Games ever”, but the truth is that the road to Tokyo 2020 was paved through rainforest destruction.

The Tokyo Olympics were portrayed by the organizers as “the greenest Games ever” from the moment the planning had started. But the truth is that the road to Tokyo 2020 was paved through rainforest destruction.

Timber supplier Korindo, which provided massive amounts of plywood sheets for building the new Olympic stadium, not only cut down rainforest in some of the most diverse tropical ecosystems in the world, it also illegally stole community land and then sent police squads after community members who resisted.

Same goes for various “gold” sponsors and partners like instant noodle giant Nissin and Japanese megabanks Mizuho and SMBC, who are all fueling rainforest destruction, climate chaos and human rights abuses with their hunger for profit from palm oil, pulp and paper, and the financing of these forest-risk commodities — and continue to do so even after the games.

Korindo — clear-cutting orangutans’ homes..

The new Olympic Stadium in Tokyo was built with over 117,000 massive sheets of plywood made of trees that were cut down in some of the last pristine rainforests in Indonesia.

The stadium comes with the terrible cost of habitat loss for orangutans and other critically endangered species, along with massive human and workers’ rights abuses.

RAN has petitioned and filed complaints on this issue with the Olympic organizers for years and to date, the Tokyo Olympics organizers have failed to disclose how much Korindo wood they used, rejected six complaints brought against them over the use of Korindo wood, and only partially disclosed the origin of that wood, saying the timber was “sustainably sourced”. And speaking of “sustainable”: The latest official sustainability report by the Olympic organizers is pure green-wash. The games might be over now, but we will continue to call out Korindo — for future Olympics that are not literally built on countless orangutans’ homes and lives.

Nissin — sponsoring destruction.

While many people know that “Top Ramen” is not exactly a healthy food, most people don’t know how unhealthy it is for the rainforests and the people who depend on them.

Nissin is the inventor and leading brand of instant ramen noodles in Japan. Nissin’s lack of transparency around their supply chain only increases the risk that Conflict Palm Oil is in their products.

But thanks to RAN’s Japan team we’ve seen some progress from Nissin, which has started to commit to stricter ’No Deforestation’ policies, which include Nissin’s promise to clean up its supply chain by cutting off palm oil suppliers that abuse human rights. We will continue to pressure Nissin to become a leader in forest protection.

Mizuho, SMBC — bankrolling forest destruction and climate disaster.

The Japanese megabanks Mizuho and SMBC were gold sponsors for the Tokyo Olympics. But they were, and still are, bound to score last when it comes to their climate and forest footprints.

Both are financing fossil fuel projects like massive coal plants in Southeast Asia, while also bankrolling problematic palm oil and pulpwood plantations in Indonesia. Pretty unworthy for sponsors of “the greenest Games ever!”

RAN has been highlighting the connection between bad banks, climate chaos and forest destruction for years — and we’re finally seeing these banks make commitments that could transform their business model. But we’ll keep up the pressure until these banks turn off the faucet of money to dirty fossil fuels and forest-destroying companies.

Tokyo Olympic Stadium

Champions of Change!

Over the past couple of years, RAN and our partners have filed grievances with Tokyo 2020’s organizing committee, revealed Korindo’s dark deeds through countless investigations and case studies on the ground in Indonesia, and held many many meetings with executives from Japanese banks and brands.

Our efforts are bearing fruit, as we see small but important progress on the collective commitment to keep forests standing.

The Olympics were a single event in the broader picture of corporate accountability, but it’s an important one. As is true for Tokyo, the Olympics bring massive infrastructure building projects to every town they travel to and billions of people watch the games all around the world — giving high visibility to the organizers and sponsors that promote the games.

Achieving truly sustainable commitments and ensuring that the Olympics don’t come at the expense of communities or forests are going to be critical for any city, organizing committee, and sponsors who want to hold and be involved in Olympic Games, as the bar for what counts as “green” or “sustainable” needs to be raised continuously. Tracing the funding funnel from banks to destructive industries and cutting them off at the source is the key to winning the fight on all of our campaigns.