MPs call for audit of process leading to signing of deal
The organisers of the London Olympics have ruled out scrapping their controversial sponsorship deal with Dow Chemical even as pressure mounted with more MPs demanding an audit of the process by which the company was handed the £7 million contract to supply a fabric wrap for the Olympic stadium in east London despite protests over its links with the Bhopal gas disaster.
Paul Deighton, chief executive of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG), on Friday insisted that the deal would go ahead notwithstanding the growing pressure following the resignation of the environmentalist Meredith Alexander from the Games' ethics watchdog accusing the organisers of behaving like “apologists” for Dow.
Mr. Deighton said: “It is absolutely her right to make her point about how she feels about the victims of Bhopal. We fully respect her. She is one of 12 people who signed off on our process for choosing Dow to provide the wrap — so we carry on. I think that it is great that we have got this independent function to oversee so all this is washed through transparently. I think that is fine but we are moving on.”
The 12-member Commission was set up to monitor and ensure that the London Olympics met its commitment to deliver the most sustainable Games ever but its credibility is being questioned after it agreed to endorse the deal.
As protests grew, Tessa Jowell, Labour MP and shadow Olympics Minister, called for an audit of the process by which Dow was picked up for the sponsorship.
“I have called for an audit of the steps taken that led the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 to recommend to LOCOG that Dow Chemical's sponsorship of the wrap was consistent with the high sustainability aims that we set for 2012. We also need to understand what the role of other commissioners was in the process, which reached that conclusion. We need a solution not a row. Dow Chemical needs to understand the seriousness with which people take the continuing situation in Bhopal following the tragic disaster in 1984. I will do everything I can to make sure this issue does not overshadow the Games. There is still time for a solution to be found,” she said.
Keith Vaz, MP and chairman of parliament's home select committee, said it was “completely unacceptable” that a company with an “appalling” human rights record should be associated with the Games.
“Meredith Alexander's resignation was brave and principled. It is completely unacceptable that a supposedly sustainable Olympic Games is taking sponsorship from a company with as appalling a human rights and environmental record as Dow's. I hope LOCOG and the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 will now see that it is untenable for Dow's sponsorship to continue. The fact Ms. Alexander felt it necessary to resign has brought the Commission's credibility into question. It will remain so as long as Dow remains a sponsor of London 2012.”
Besides the £7 million wrap deal, Dow has a 10-year sponsorship arrangement with the International Olympic Committee estimated to be worth at least £100 million.
Dow, which bought the Bhopal plant from Union Carbide after the gas tragedy, denies any liability. The Games' organisers insist that the decision to award the sponsorship to Dow was taken after “very carefully” considering all the issues.