France: Decathlon halts canoe sales to curb migrant crossings

Sports goods retailer Decathlon has stopped sale of its canoes in northern France’s shops after several migrants were reported to be using them to reach England.

The purchase of canoes will no longer be possible in Decathlon stores in Calais and Grande-Synthe near Dunkirk given the current context, a spokesperson for Decathlon told AFP.

However, Decathlon will continue selling canoes for online purchases and in other stores. It will also sell other safety gears like lifejackets and thermal protection in these stores for people wanting to buy.

Decathlon said that they are seeing a surge in crossing attempts in which several people are purchasing their products but not for sporting use.

“The recent increase in crossing attempts has indeed led our Decathlon Calais teams to question the position to be taken on the sale of products that can be diverted from their sporting use and serve as boats to cross the Channel,” said the brand on Monday, according to a report by northern France’s newspaper La Voix Du Nord.

It added: “In consultation with the teams, we will now ensure not to allow the purchase of boats – including kayaking – which could endanger the lives of people…”

“…We are committed to never putting our customers at risk in the use of our products, whatever the circumstances,” Decathlon has said.

The move from the global sports products retailer comes a week after thousands of people with their children were seen crossing the English Channel and several used the boat to reach the other side, increasing regional tensions between France and London.

At least 1,185 people reached the UK via small boats on Thursday — a record high in the looming migration crisis, confirmed the Home Office. Earlier this month, close to 850 people had crossed the Channel.

Along the way in their pursuit to leave France, many have reportedly gone missing, multiple reports showed.

While three migrants who attempted to reach Britain through waters were reported missing on Friday last week, two people were brought out of water, reportedThe Guardian.

Authorities by the coast have found shipwrecked people in the last few weeks. Officials are warning people to not use the Channel as the strong currents are making it dangerous for boats to survive the sea.

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