IOC President Asks IOA to Curb Protests over Dow Sponsorship

December 7, 2011

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge has requested the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to talk with its athletes over ongoing protests related to the 2012 London Games’ sponsorship deal with Dow Chemical.

The Indian government has asked IOA to raise the issue of the deal in the latest sign of pressure on organisers to reconsider the involvement of a company linked to the Bhopal gas disaster.  Many victims and activists hold Dow responsible for failing to give enough compensation to victims and some have called for a boycott of the London Games.

The pesticide plant was owned by Union Carbide, which settled its liabilities with the Indian government in 1989 by paying $470 million (R2400 crore) for Bhopal victims.

Dow bought Union Carbide a decade after the company had settled with the Indian government and now finds itself in the firing line for its sponsorship of a temporary decorative wrap over London’s Olympic Stadium.

“Definitely we respect a lot the emotion in India because this is a horrific catastrophe,” Rogge said. “While we totally understand the emotions and the grief, one has to say that Dow Chemical was not involved in the Bhopal issue.”

Activists say 25,000 people died in the immediate aftermath of the accident and in ensuing years, and about 100,000 people who were exposed to the gas continue to suffer today from ailments that range from cancer, blindness to birth defects.

“We have advised the IOA to enter into a dialogue with their athletes and this is what they will do,” Rogge said.