Sponsorship deal with company involved in Bhopal gas tragedy will 'tarnish' London 2012 Olympics

India News Bulletin Desk
Wikimedia Commons (Brian Reading, Luca Frediani, Simone.lippi, Megan Eaves, Chitrapa)

The London Assembly has called on the London 2012 Olympics organising committee to rethink its sponsorship deal with Dow Chemicals, the parent company of Union Carbide Corporation, the firm involved in the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy.

Dow is a Worldwide Olympic Partner and has sponsored the plastic wrap around the London 2012 Olympic Stadium in Stratford, London. In 2010, Dow signed a $100m (£63m) 10-year deal with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and agreed to sponsor the £7m Olympic Stadium wrap

But London Assembly, the watchdog that holds the Mayor of London accountable, has said that the decision of the IOC to select Dow as a sponsor has damaged the reputation of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“Almost thirty years after the horrific Bhopal chemical disaster, the factory site has still not been cleared up and the survivors and their families continue to fight for compensation,” said Navin Shah, an Assembly Member.

“It is time for LOCOG [London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games] and the IOC to take their ethical and sustainability code seriously and exclude Dow Chemical from future sponsorship deals,” Shah added.

Dow, a US-based multinational chemical company, bought the Union Carbide Chemical Company in 1999 for $9.3bn in stock. Union Carbide is the owner of the Bhopal pesticide plant where the 1984 disaster took place.

A leak of methyl isocyanate gas and other chemicals from Union Carbide’s plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, resulted in the death of more than 14,000 people as well as caused permanent injuries to hundreds of thousands of people living in the surrounding areas.

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Shah proposed a motion at the Assembly meeting on Wednesday [July 11] urging the IOC and national organising committees to consider the environmental, social, ethical and human rights records of companies before signing high-profile partnership and sponsorship deals.

“It’s not too late to clean up their act,” Shah continued. “We owe it to the victims and their families to demand actions and implement changes to keep out the likes of Dow Chemical from future Games.”

Shah’s motion was seconded by another Assembly Member, Darren Johnson.

“There is a genuine excitement and enthusiasm about the Games across London, but it is in danger of being tarnished by association with companies like Dow Chemical,” Johnson said.

The assembly members want the London 2012 Olympic Games organisers to tighten up the regulations around Olympic sponsorship to ensure they “don’t make the same mistakes again”.

“It is ridiculous to argue that a company could be absolved by a takeover deal,” Johnson said.

“When Dow bought Union Carbide, alongside all the assets they also took on the responsibility and it is high time they lived up to it.”

The Assembly also called on the Games’ organisers to review the Dow-deal in the light of the principles defined in the ‘Olympic Charter’.

Currently, Dow’s London 2012 Olympics sponsorship extends until 2020.

Also read: Justice for Bhopal protest against Dow Chemicals sponsorship deal on London 2012 Olympics day.

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