Further to my last post, you’ll also see on that two-page spread on the Olympics in today’s Sunday Express, a couple of other pieces on the Dow Chemical issue. Regular readers will know that I was pretty much a lone obsessive voice covering this story since the deal with Locog was signed in August. In the last week or so, everyone’s covering it, which is fantastic.
Tessa Jowell is flying to India this week, and Lord Coe probably will as well to lobby the Indian Olympic Association before its vote on a possible boycott on December 5. That date is just two days after the 27th anniversary of the 1984 disaster. I’d like to see Coe’s mirror that day.
As today’s article makes clear, Britain’s Olympic bosses felt they were put in an impossible position by Dow’s position as a global partner of the International Olympic Committee. After all, how could Locog reject Dow’s offer to pay for the wrap?? What would they tell IOC chief Jaques Rogge – that Dow wasn’t suitable?
Well, yes, quite frankly. Coe showed balls as an athlete, but as a politician, for that’s what he is remember (with designs in running World Athletics), he’s a choker.
But the question of who should pay for the wrap just shouldn’t have arisen. As my commentary below suggests, there is something very coincidental about the timings. Why did Coe decide to drop the wrap? Yes, the Government was asking for £20million savings as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review, but why did they choose the wrap when it was so obviously needed in their later view? They could have saved such a trifling some easily elsewhere, for a start in Paul Deighton’s annual bonuses.
No, the suspicion among many is that the wrap was a stitch-up, if you’ll pardon the pun. Dow had just paid the IOC a great deal of money and it wanted an involvement in 2012. So they got exclusive marketing rights to the stadium.
These, and more, are questions that politicians will continue to ask even if, as I suspect, the Indian Olympic Association, votes not to boycott and provides Coe with some much-needed tonic.
One of those politicians will be Ken Livingstone, who will join the campaign this week and make it an election issue against Boris Johnson, who hailed the Dow deal at the time of the Locog deal in August as “the final grand touch to the magnificent stadium”.
This will continue to run.
SURVIVORS of the Bhopal gas disaster are planning to burn symbols of the 2012 Olympics as a protest against Dow Chemical’s sponsorship of the stadium.
Thousands will march through the Indian city on Friday to mark the 27th anniversary of the world’s worst industrial accident in which thousands died.
They will burn symbols of Dow Chemical and of the 2012 Games amid fury that the US company has been awarded “exclusive marketing rights” by Lord Coe’s organising team.
Dow owns Union Carbide, which owned and ran the chemical plant in Bhopal, which campaigners say continues to pollute the city’s groundwater.
Although Dow only bought Union Carbide in 2001 and insists a “full and final” compensation deal for victims was agreed by the Indian government in 1989, there is outrage over the Olympics decision.
The Indian Olympic Association will vote on December 5 on whether to boycott the London Games.
Labour’s Ken Livingstone will join the campaign this week, heaping pressure on current London mayor Boris Johnson Johnson, who has proclaimed Dow’s wrap as “the final grand touch” to the stadium.
The Sunday Express was alone in reporting the controversy for three months after the deal was struck in August.
Britain’s Olympic bosses are “vigorously trying to find a solution”, sources said.
Privately, they feel Dow’s position puts Lord Coe’s organising committee in an “impossible position”.
They hope Dow will “gracefully withdraw”.
Organisers could also scrap the stadium’s fabric wrap, which Dow is paying for.
Another option would be for Dow to contribute up to £12.5million to a fund to help clean the pollution in Bhopal.
Dow denies any responsibility for the 1984 disaster.
UNTIL the deal with Dow, Lord Coe had played a public relations “blinder” so why did he risk it all with such an obvious own goal?
The answer probably lies in pressure exerted by the International Olympic Committee.
In July 2010, Dow became an IOC global partner, a privilege thought to cost up to £100million. For that it would have wanted some part in London 2012.
Four months later, the Government asked Lord Coe to come up with £20million of savings as part of the November spending review. Coe volunteered to drop the £7million wrap.
A month later, Coe revealed “commercial interest” in funding the wrap. In February this year, the wrap was put out to tender in return for “exclusive marketing rights”.
Six months later, Dow is announced as the winner.
Coe denies the IOC leaned on him, but campaigners ask whether he chose to drop the wrap knowing that Dow would pay for it to be reinstated.