Catch the flame

Visitors were encouraged to 'carry' the flame around the world towards the Olympic Games in China by using their mobile phones, e-mail and the internet. Participants signed onto the website and left their names and a message on a map of the world.

On March 20th 2008 a virtual Olympic torch relay was started by Play Fair 2008 in the Netherlands, making its way East and West around the world. Play Fair's alternative torch was taken up by more than 12,000 people in 99 countries. These thousands connected virtually to demand that the IOC take action on workers' rights in Olympic supply chains.

Play Fair's Catch the Flame initiative received support from a variety of individuals and organizations; much of this activity was reported on in the CTF blog on the campaign website.

In Austria former European champion swimmer Vera Lischka expressed her support of Catch the Flame. Thousands of Austrians sent out text messages urging the IOC to play fair.

In the US Play Fair's alternative flame met up with the official flame. Protesters lined the streets of San Francisco, as the official torch was quietly whisked away.

Supporters in the Philippines held their own torch relay, while a giant workers rights Fuwa was present at a mass demonstration in Hong Kong.

More than 12,000 people all over the world used this tool to express their disappointment with the failure of the International Olympic Committee to address the abhorrent working conditions faced by workers producing Olympic-branded merchandise.

Starting in the Netherlands the campaign spread to its neighboring countries -Spain, Belgium, Germany - it quickly spread west over the Atlantic into the US and Canada and east into the Baltic states and Asia -The Philippines, Thailand, Japan and Hong Kong. On May 1st the Play Fair flame succeeded in reaching China from both directions.


The book of signatures that was presented to the IOC spokespersons at their headquarters in Lausanne also featured thousands of messages to the IOC. All of which appeared on the Catch the Flame website as well.

Catch the Flame activists also provided the Olympic Museum in Lausanne - running an exhibition on China - -with materials that would offer their visitors a more balanced view of working conditions in Olympic supply chains in China. The activists were denied entrance.

On June 10th a delegation of activists, representing a variety of unions, NGOs and the Play Fair 2008 organizers, visited the IOC headquarters in Switzerland to present the IOC with the thousands of signatures of people who took part in the Catch the Flame initiative. A giant Olympic worker's rights mascot, a Play Fair Fuwa, presented a book with the 12,000 signatures to representatives of the IOC.

Again, Play Fair voiced concerns about the lack of concrete follow up to rights violations documented in the campaign's "No Medal" report and the lack of response to PF's recommendations for a serious approach to labor rights. Play Fair urged the IOC representatives to take immediate action.

However, the IOC again chose not to make any commitment whatsoever to change working conditions in Olympic supply chains. They told the delegation that while the IOC had taken notice of Play Fair's demands, they would not make any promises.

Get more info on the playfair 2008 olympics campaign here >>