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Paralympic Row Erupts Over Dow Chemical Sponsorship

Press Release from Drop Dow Now

Monday the 21st May is 100 days to the Paralympic Games, a date marked with controversy due to Dow Chemical’s Paralympic sponsorship.

Campaigners have called for Dow’s sponsorship of the London Paralympic Games to be dropped due to Dow’s ownership of Union Carbide, the company responsible for the Bhopal gas disaster in 1984. The disaster killed over 20,000 and caused injury and illness to thousands more [1]. Hundreds of children continue to be born every year with birth defects [2].

Indian Olympians, including Aslam Sher Khan from the Olympian Association of India, have written to the International Paralympic Committee to complain about Dow’s association with the London 2012 Paralympics. The International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal also made a formal complaint. The International Paralympic Committee has repeatedly distanced itself from the sponsorship deal. Dow is a sponsor for the International Olympic Committee, but the International Paralympic Committee has no official relations with Dow [3].

The Vietnamese Government has also made a formal protest at Dow’s connection with the Olympics given Dow’s role in producing Agent Orange, a pesticide whose use during the Vietnam War is estimated to have affected up to 4.8million people, and is now associated with high rates of birth defects [4].

Meredith Alexander, who resigned in January from the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 due to Dow’s sponsorship of the Olympics, said,

“Dow is a completely inappropriate sponsor for the London Paralympics. Instead of being a champion of people with disabilities, Dow is the company now responsible for the ongoing tragedy in Bhopal, which still causes birth defects and crippling health problems. Dow should invest its money in cleaning up the toxins that continue to poison unborn children rather than pay for bragging rights at the Paralympics.

“LOCOG has previously insisted that Dow’s sponsorship of the London Olympics is the result of Dow’s contract with the IOC. But no such contract exists between the International Paralympic Committee and Dow. The decision to partner with Dow on the Paralympics was made by LOCOG alone. LOCOG’s insensitive choice is a slap in the face to the tens of thousands who live with a disability as a result of the Bhopal gas leak.”

Len Aldis, from the Agent Orange Action Group and Secretary of the Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society, added,

“The terrible effects of Agent Orange in Vietnam have damaged the health of the fourth generation of children. 4.8 million Vietnamese are affected, and the Vietnamese government are protesting Dow’s sponsorship on behalf of their people. How LOCOG ever reached this decision to partner with Dow is beyond me. It is a disgrace and an insult to the people that have lost their lives and are still dying today in Vietnam as a result of Dow’s Agent Orange.”

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Notes to editors:
[1] – Amnesty International (2004) Clouds of Injustice, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/ASA20/015/2004/en/fa14a821-d584-11dd-bb24-1fb85fe8fa05/asa200152004en.pdf

[2] – ‘Bhopal’s health disaster continues to unfold’, The Lancet, Volume 360, Number 9336, 14th September 2002

[3] – For details of personal correspondence with the IPC which clarifies this point, please contact dropdownow@gmail.com

[4] – Martin, Michael F. (2009) ‘Vietnamese Victims of Agent Orange and U.S.-Vietnam Relations’, http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL34761.pdf

For interviews or further details, please call Meredith Alexander on 07814607826


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