Usain Bolt is one of the faces of the It's a Penalty campaign ©Getty Images

Athletics greats Usain Bolt of Jamaica and Cathy Freeman of Australia and five-time Paralympic swimming gold medallist Ellie Simmonds of Britain have joined the campaign "It's a Penalty", which spreads awareness about modern slavery, in the build-up to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

In its 13th global campaign, It's a Penalty is to use sport as a platform to raise awareness for the signs of human trafficking, abuse and exploitation, as well as hotlines to dial.

This campaign is supported by Hilton, Airbnb, British Airways, Emirates, local non-Governmental organisations, Birmingham City Council and organisations within the Commonwealth.

West Midlands Anti Slavery Network, Hope for Justice, West Midlands Violence Reduction Partnership, Missing People and Unseen are among those local organisations.

The campaign is also backed by Olympic sprinter Asha Philip and netball sisters Sasha and Kadeen Corbin.

They participated in a 30-second video shown in-flight by Emirates Airlines and British Airways.

There are an estimated 100,000 victims of modern slavery across the United Kingdom, according to the Centre for Social Justice, with the economic and social cost of it believed to be £3.3 billion ($4 billion/€3.85 billion) and £4.3 billion ($5.22 billion/€5 billion).

West Midlands Police, who govern over the area where the Commonwealth Games are to take place, reported in 2020 that there are up to 4,200 victims of modern slavery in the region, with an estimate of 70 per cent of them being children.

Sydney 2000 women's 400m champion Cathy Freeman is also a supporter of the campaign ©Getty Images
Sydney 2000 women's 400m champion Cathy Freeman is also a supporter of the campaign ©Getty Images

Estimates say that one in 150 people in the Commonwealth is living in conditions of modern slavery, according to a 2020 report from the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.

"As a matter of urgency, we need to strengthen the prevention and elimination of forced labour, modern slavery, exploitation and trafficking of persons and the protection of the most vulnerable in society, especially children, in all the countries of our Commonwealth," said It's a Penalty chief executive Sarah de Carvalho.

"It's a Penalty and and its partners are proud to be spearheading this Birmingham campaign in the run up to and during the 2022 Commonwealth Games, as one of the projects that is part of the United by Birmingham 2022 programme. 

"Using the power of sport, everyone can play their part - from star athletes to members of the public, and from the travel and tourism and wider business sector to voluntary and faith organisations - all contributing to a positive legacy in the host city of Birmingham and beyond."

If anyone suspects they have encountered modern slavery, they are to call the UK Modern Slavery & Exploitation Hotline on 08000 121 700.

The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games are scheduled to take place from July 28 to August 8.