Dow Chemical Company is among the three major sponsors of the coming London Olympics to be targeted by a newly-formed umbrella group of environmental and rights campaigners over their ethical record which — the group says — is in conflict with the values sought to be promoted by ‘London 2012.'
The other two companies are the oil giant BP and Rio Tinto, a multinational metals and mining corporation.
The protest group, called Greenwash Gold 2012, will invite members of the public to vote online for the “worst corporate sponsor” after watching three animated films it has made about the environmental record of each of these companies.
Meredith Alexander, a leading environmentalist who resigned from the Games' ethics committee — the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 — protesting against Dow's links with the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster and accusing the organisers of “toeing” the company's line said the Olympics had become “big business” undermining its original values.
“The Olympic values are all about celebrating our common humanity. But the Olympics is also big business. There is an expensive machine behind the Games that is funded by corporate sponsors. Sadly when these sponsors are selected, money talks much more loudly than values,” she said at the launch of the campaign.
The films feature a survivor of the Bhopal gas tragedy; a representative of the communities in the Gulf Coast, scene of BP's oil spill in April 2010; and a campaigner from Utah who says she is fighting “life-threatening” air pollution levels caused by one of the mines from which Rio Tinto is providing the metal for the Olympic medals.
Dow's sponsorship has provoked widespread protests prompting calls for the deal to be scrapped.
Besides a £7-million deal under which it is funding a fabric wrap for the Olympic stadium in east London, the company 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 have defended the decision to award the contract to Dow, saying it was taken after all the issues were “very carefully” considered.
BP said it remained “100 per cent committed” to making the Games a success while a Rio Tinto spokesman said its operations were “consistently in compliance with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Utah Division of Air Quality regulations.”