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London 2012 Watch: IOC Keeps Olympics Vow to Dow

Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 17, 2012 06:06 PM

At the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, the India Olympic Committee sent 56 athletes to compete and came home with its best performance in history: one gold (men’s 10m air rifle shooting) and two bronze (wrestling and boxing).

It remains unclear if any Indian athletes will be showing up at the London 2012 Summer Games due to the massive presence of Olympic sponsor Dow Chemicals, which is “sponsoring a $11.4-million decorative wrap that will be installed around London's Olympic Stadium,” according to the Associated Press.

The problem stems from Dow’s ownership of Union Carbide, which it bought in 2000, 16 years after Union’s plant in Bhopal had a gas leak that “killed an estimated 15,000 people and injured half a million,” the AP notes. While Dow didn’t own Union when the incident happened, critics say the company is “responsible for lingering groundwater contamination and other issues,” the AP notes.

The International Olympic Committee, however, sees it another way and “rejected Indian calls Thursday to drop” the sponsor from the Games, the AP reports.

"We were aware of the Bhopal tragedy when discussing the partnership with Dow," IOC President Jacques Rogge said in a letter to the Indian Olympic Association. "Dow had no connection with the Bhopal tragedy. Dow did not have any ownership stake in Union Carbide until 16 years after the accident and 12 years after the $470 million compensation agreement was approved by the Indian Supreme Court."

The Indian Olympic Committee is not happy with Rogge and will now ask “the Indian government to take a stand on the issue,” the AP notes. Amnesty International also was hoping the Olympics would find a way to detach from the Dow name. “It is extremely disappointing that Olympic organizers continue to side with Dow Chemical Company while refusing to listen to legitimate concerns over the company's sponsorship of the London Games," Amnesty said in a statement, according to the AP.


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markdisommma New Zealand says:

Thank you very much for your story. It raises a number of interesting issues, not just about this particular sponsorship but also about what brands own and what that means. To my mind, it is simply not true that Dow has no connection with the Bhopal tragedy. What Dow seems to have overlooked in their statements about Union Carbide, and the big lesson for brand owners and acquirers the world over, is that when you purchase a brand, you pay for all the assets. You buy the goodwill but you also acquire the “badwill” as well. When they bought the Union Carbide brand, Dow acquired the global memories of what transpired at Bhopal and the enduring emotional reaction to that tragedy. They continue to own that “badwill” regardless of the actual legal arguments and decisions.

I expand on this and offer other thoughts on the implications of this for Dow and for the IOC here: markdisomma.wordpress.com/.../

February 19, 2012 05:44 PM #

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