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Athletes call for Dow Chemical ban
08 March 2012, 11:26 AM | Source: John Baldock, SBS
The campaign has already drawn the support of over 25 current and former Olympic athletes.
The IOC has rejected all claims to remove Dow from its list of official sponsors which includes corporate giants such as Coca Cola, MacDonalds, Samsung and Visa.
The athletes argue that as they and their coaches are asked to abide by the Olympic Charter and the Code of ethics before they can compete at the Games – so should Olympic Sponsors.
The campaign claims that Dow’s poor record on health violations such as being named the “second worst polluter” by the American Environmental Protection Agency in 2010 makes Dow an unsuitable Olympic sponsor.
Dow signed a 10-year deal with the IOC two years ago and already London Olympics organisers have been threatened by a boycott from India’s athletes because of the company’s links with Union Carbide – the company responsible for the deaths of around 3,800 people in Bhopal in 1984 after a gas leak at one of its plants, with thousands more either permanently or partially disabled.
Dow has argued that it only bought the company in 1999, 15 years after the accident. And it says that the families affected by the tragedy received a $443 million payout. Many of the families involved claim this amount wasn’t enough. Indian activists believe it’s wrong for Indian athletes to compete at an Olympics which is sponsored by a company which owns Union Carbide.
The issues here are a matter of ethics and Olympic values. The IOC cannot function without massive sponsors such as Dow Chemicals. But the question has to be asked – where does it draw the line?
Would it allow a company with links to gambling, for example, to become an Olympic sponsor?
Betting agencies have begun targeting professional sports and clubs here in Australia to a mixed reaction from the public.
It’s a tough call. I believe in the Olympic Ideals of sport for all and the encouragement of a healthy lifestyle for the younger generation in particular.
But try telling the families affected by one of the worst industrial tragedies the world has ever seen that Dow’s ownership of Union Carbide is about the promotion of a healthy lifestyle.