The organising committee for the 2020 summer Olympic and Paralympic Games has rejected renewed claims from a US environmental organisation that facilities being developed for Tokyo’s event are using wood that has been obtained through illegal logging.

Investigations into the Korean-Indonesian conglomerate Korindo Group have seen the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) produce two reports documenting widespread evidence of alleged illegality, environmental destruction and community rights violations across the company’s operations.

Korindo’s expansion into Indonesia’s frontier forests is said to have involved primary forest clearance, intentional burning, land grabbing and police harassment and arbitrary arrest of local people. RAN claims these abuses have resulted in Korindo supplying unsustainable and likely illegal timber for the construction of Tokyo 2020 venues, including Ariake Arena (pictured), the planned volleyball venue in the Tokyo Bay area.

Evidence contained in the report states Korindo has been sourcing illegal and unsustainable timber for its mills, and supplying plywood from those mills for the construction of Tokyo 2020 venues. Photographic evidence, company supply chain data and trade export records detail that Korindo plywood used for Olympics venue construction has likely included illegal timber from North Maluku as well as timber cleared from an orangutan habitat in East Kalimantan, supplied via the Japanese trading company Sumitomo Forestry.

“The Tokyo 2020 Olympic organisers promised to deliver a sustainable Olympics,” said Hana Heineken from RAN. “Instead, it has used over 110,000 sheets of tropical plywood from Indonesia that is linked to rainforest destruction, land-grabbing and clearance of endangered orangutan habitat, much of it to make way for oil palm plantations.

“The Olympics is supposed to celebrate human achievement and global solidarity, not be built on top of human rights violations and environmental destruction from remote corners of the world.”

RAN claims that the use of such wood “flies in the face” of Tokyo 2020’s pledge to realise the United Nations’ sustainable development goals. However, Tokyo 2020 spokesman Masa Takaya told The Straits Times newspaper: “It is a matter of fact that all timber currently used in construction for the Tokyo 2020 Games has complied with its sustainable sourcing code for timber.”

The code was drawn up to ensure the sustainability of all procured timber in construction work for Tokyo 2020 utilising guidance from various stakeholders including experts in human rights and the environment.

Takaya added that Tokyo 2020 has been engaged in talks since July over whether to further enhance the code.

Image: Tokyo 2020