The sponsorship of the London Olympics by international chemical giant Dow has caused yet more controversy this week as Vietnam calls for Dow’s Olympic sponsorship to be axed.
The 2012 Olympic Games, hailed as the most sustainable games yet, have come under wide scrutiny for allowing a company with such a disreputable past to take part in ‘greenwashing’ the event.
Previosuly India asked the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to terminate the sponsorship of the games by Dow chemical, who are held responsible for the lasting legacy in Bhopal where a gas leak killed upwards of 20,000 people in 1984.
This week Vietnam have expressed similar concerns over the sponsorship and call for the termination of the 10 year sponsorship deal which was agreed with the IOC in 2010.
Vietnam calls for Dow to be dropped from the games because of the company’s history of the production of the toxic herbicide Agent Orange, which was widely sprayed across Vietnam between 1962 and 1970. Figures from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Vietnam cite 4.8 million affected by the defoliant and 500,000 children subsequently born with birth defects.
Agent Orange continues to contaminate ecosystems in Vietnam, as well as causing ongoing health, food and sanitation crisis. Dow produced one-third of the 80 million liters sprayed in the period.
Agent Orange was intended to defoliate areas of Vietnamese jungle where Vietcong guerrillas were concealed in the Vietnam War. Washington and The US have denied any responsibility for the long-lasting damage in Vietnam to this day.
The toxic legacy from Agent Orange and methyl isocyanate (MIC) – the deadly gas which leaked in Bhopal- are starkly similar, with severe congenital defects the most apparent. In both cases the deformities extend to second and third generations, inherited from parents’ exposure.
Dow and Monsanto, both producers of Agent Orange, continue business in Vietnam. Similarly, reports recently revealed show that Union Carbide also continued illegally trading in India after 1984.
The seven million pound decorative wrap that will adorn the East London Olympic stadium first sparked controversy at the end of last year, the 336 giant panels perceived as insensitive and a slap in the face for those who continue to suffer in Bhopal. Furthermore, ethics commissioner Meredith Alexander resigned from her role at the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 in protest over Dow’s awarding of the stadium contract. In an interview with the Bhopal Medical Appeal, Alexander stated that she did not want to be part of a body who had become “apologists for Dow.”
The additional irony of the sponsorship of the Paralympic games, also by Dow, is explicitly apparent, and further adds to the inappropriate sponsorship.
Len Aldis, from the Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society, in his open letter emphasized: “despite their record, money talks. The IOC should cancel Dow’s sponsorship of the Games” and it appears that moral opinion is increasingly on his side.
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