Barry Gardiner MP (Labour, Brent North) is chair of Labour Friends of India
Today marks 200 days till the start of the London Olympics.
I was the founding chair of the All Party Olympic Group that campaigned in parliament to bid for the games originally, and I have enormous admiration for the way in which Lord Coe has personally steered both the London Games bid and its delivery.
However, I believe that the question marks hanging over LOCOGs partnership with Dow Chemical Company need answering before we can look forward to an Olympic Games in 2012 without any stain or suspicion hanging over it.
There are major questions that still need answering about Dow’s suitability to be an Olympic sponsor, the ongoing cases in Bhopal and about the events surrounding the procurement process itself.
There are an alarming number of serious issues of business malpractice by Dow over recent years.
These include a consumer fraud lawsuit brought by the New York State Attorney General in 2003, a cease and desist order imposed by Securities and Exchange Commission in New York in 2007 in relation to corruption of officials and the blacklisting of Dow only last year by the Indian government in relation to bribing officials.
These incidents raise serious questions as to how Dow could be seen to be a suitable partner for the Olympic Games.
In the light of this it is quite incredible that LOCOG insists that:
“At the time, when the bids were being considered in early 2011 LOCOG found no current media, political or NGO commentary that would gives cause for concern.”
In relation to the ongoing court cases arising out of Bhopal which involve Dow and the Union Carbide Corporation, I find it frankly astonishing that LOCOG seems to have taken Dow’s claims in relation to these cases at face value. In a letter addressed to IOC President Jacques Rogge, VK Malhotra, Acting President of Indian Olympic Association, stressed that there were active court cases against Dow.
“A false campaign has been launched by the DOW Chemical’s saying that the matter has been settled. It is not correct. The case is still pending in the court and no final compensation has been made”
LOCOG needs to explain how it reached its decision that the ongoing Bhopal cases were not of concern, from whom they received legal advice and exactly why they were able to rule the cases (which are being sponsored by the Indian government) were of no potential risk.
There also remain some serious concerns about the chronology, openness and transparency of the Olympic wrap tender.
On February the 8th 2011 it was reported that the tendering process would go ahead, with expressions of interest due by February 18th. Clearly this was an extraordinarily short period of time in which to source a major supplier.
The public might consider it inconceivable that only 10 days were allowed for such a major tender, unless there had been clear and ongoing discussions with potential partners prior to the announcement.
We have heard from another company who are adamant that they submitted an expression of interest before the deadline, but were told by LOCOG that their submission had been “too late”.
LOCOG need to explain fully the events that led up to the procurement process and disclose whether pressure was applied by Dow representatives or the International Olympic Association in relation to the Stadium wrap.
16,000 people have so far signed the petition to kick Dow out of the London Olympic. Campaigners are meeting today in London, Chennai, Bhopal, Nicaragua, Michigan and Vietnam to protest against Dow’s involvements in the London Games. We now have 200 days to get LOCOG to answer our questions and reverse their decision.
Please sign the petition.
• How the Olympics privatised your mouth – Alex Hern, January 3rd 2012
• Sports minister: School sport “nothing to do with me… but the School Games are” – Shamik Das, December 15th 2011
• A toxic cloud over London 2012 – Barry Gardiner MP, November 4th 2011
• How we sold off the right to protest to the one per cent – Alex Hern, November 3rd 2011
• Boris fiddles as London prepares for transport chaos – Alex Hern, October 19th 2011