Campaigners say sponsorship of stadium wrap should be scrapped because of Dow’s association with Bhopal
Twenty-four MPs have written to London 2012 organisers Locog urging them to withdraw a £7m contract for the Olympic stadium’s fabric wrap, which was awarded to the Dow Chemical Company.
Campaigners including 21 former Olympians have joined the MPs’ protest, saying the company has outstanding liabilities relating to the 1984 Bhopal gas leak which killed up to 20,000 people.
Dow bought the plant’s owner Union Carbide in 2001.
Under the current agreement, Dow will fund the stadium’s wrap in exchange for being allowed to advertise on its 336 fabric panels before the start of the Games.
The decision sparked outrage in India, where the Bhopal Group for Information and Action said: “Dow as sponsor of Olympics is like a dance on the graves of Bhopal gas victims.
“The London Olympic organisers must show some moral responsibility and remove Dow from the sponsors list.”
Tessa Jowell, the shadow Olympics minister, did not sign the letter to Locog committee chairman Lord Coe, but said the organisation had serious questions to answer about how the deal came about, and the associated “reputational risk”.
Those opposed to Dow’s sponsorship have suggested it could lead Indian athletes to boycott the 2012 Games, but Lord Coe told the Commons culture, media and sport select committee he had “no sense at all” that this had been considered.
Barry Gardiner, the Labour MP leading the campaign, said Dow was engaged in a blatant attempt to detoxify its brand.
He said: “I don’t want to see the Games in London tarnished by a company that has blood on its hands and refuses to face up to its liabilities.”
Dow has previously said that while the past must never be forgotten, its position as an Olympic sponsor represents its “vision for the future”.
“Fundamentally, the Olympic Games are about peace, progress, sustainability and the world coming together to celebrate our common humanity. We share that vision and are committed to achieving it,” a company spokesman said.