I know that politicians and people in power can be notoriously out of touch with reality, and we’ve seem some spectacularly tone deaf policies from the Chancellor of the Exchequer recently… but the Dow Chemicals sponsorship of the London Olympics really takes the biscuit.
Bhopal is a town in Madhya Pradesh, India. In 1984, a gas plant run by Union Carbide malfunctioned and poisoned at 3,787 to death. Almost thirty years on, the total number of gas-related deaths to date may be closer to 15,000 with the Indian Government saying that up to half a million people had suffered health problems as a result of the disaster.
Union Carbide, the company responsible for the disaster, is now owned by the Dow Chemical company. Dow deny that they are culpable, despite the numerous convictions of Union Carbide employees in Indian Courts.
The IOC says that because Dow only bought Union Carbide in 2001, that they were not responsible for the accident and the deaths. However, that’s not how things work. When one company buys another, they buy the brand and the liabilities of that company as well as their assets. Wehn Dow bought Union Carbide, Dow legally became Union Carbide – their histories and destinies become intertwined.
Even if the Dow/Union Carbide version of events is true (something that the people of Madhya Pradesh and successive India Governments consider complete baloney), the fact is that a gas leak at their plant ruined the lives of many lakhs of people. While litigation continues, this company should not be allowed to sanitise their reputation through the sponsorship of London 2012. It is deeply inappropriate for the International Olympic Committee (hardly a paragon of virtue itself) to take Dow’s money.