Senior sources have admitted a “mistake” was made this summer when Dow Chemical Company was awarded sponsorship of the £500 million main stadium in east London.
They are worried they have insulted India because US company Dow owns Union Carbide Corporation, which was responsible for the 1984 gas leak disaster in Bhopal.
The Indian government is in the middle of a $1billion (£650million) legal action against Dow, with another hearing for increased compensation expected in weeks at the Supreme Court.
Games chiefs have considered cancelling the £7million sponsorship deal which gives Dow “exclusive marketing rights” for the stadium, allowing its logo to be pictured in all photographs leading up to the Games.
However, they are concerned the company would launch a lawsuit for damages which could in itself cost £50million.
The highly-placed Games source said: “We’re trying to find a solution but I don’t think it’s going to happen. We’ve made a mistake, that’s accepted now, but we’re desperately hoping this doesn’t blow up into something bigger. It would be a disaster if it did.”
Dow was awarded the sponsorship in August when it agreed to fund the fabric wrap that will adorn the stadium from early next year until the end of June 2012.
The company wants to use the Games, itself staged on a formerly contaminated site, to help draw a line under the industry’s past. Having bought Union Carbide in 2001, Dow never owned the plant in Bhopal and denies all culpability for both the 1984 leak and ongoing groundwater pollution .
It says Union Carbide agreed “final” compensation with the Indian government in 1989. However, campaigners, who say up to 25,000 people have died, insist Dow and Union Carbide should show more responsibility.
There is growing outrage in India over the decision of the Olympic bosses, who are led by Lord Coe.
The Indian Olympic Association has called for Dow’s name to be dropped and one celebrated sportsman, Jalaluddin Rizvi, a hockey Olympian at the 1984 Games, said yesterday that a delegation of star athletes is planning to visit London to protest. He said: “This is not only about Bhopal, this is about humanity and morality.
“This company, which we say is linked to the deaths and suffering of so many people, is just not appropriate to be associated with such a peaceful and prestigious event.”
Film stars and other famous names are also expected to back the protest. Slumdog Millionaire star Dev Patel has spoken of how a visit to Bhopal this year was a “life-changing experience”, while British artist Tracey Emin, an organiser of the Cultural Olympiad, is known to be “seething” about the decision.
Indian-born Anish Kapoor, whose Orbit sculpture next to the stadium will be one of the iconic images of the Games, is a major donor to Bhopal Medical Appeal, while newsreader Jon Snow and Glastonbury festival boss Michael Eavis are patrons of the appeal, which funds a clinic helping survivors.
Last week, Labour MP Keith Vaz tabled an Early Day Motion in the Commons condemning the decision. Lord Coe, who has refused to meet members of the Bhopal Medical Appeal, has now agreed to see the MP for private talks.
In 2008, an early day motion condemning Dow’s refusal to answer lawsuits was signed by Business Secretary Vince Cable and fellow Lib Dem MP Don Foster, who sits on the Olympics Board. Mr Foster declined to comment. A spokesman for London Mayor Boris Johnson, who chairs the Olympic Board, also said he was unable to comment while legal action continued against Dow.
When the Sunday Express asked Lord Coe, he said: “We won’t review the decision. Dow is an IOC partner.”
The London 2012 Organising Committee has refused to disclose which other companies, if any, tendered for the deal.
By Ted Jeory, Whitehall
Source: Sunday Express