Coe defends sponsorship of Olympic stadium

LORD Coe has defended London 2012’s sponsorship deal with Dow Chemical Company for the Olympic stadium wrap, despite the firm’s links with one of the world’s worst industrial disasters.

Up to 15,000 people died and tens of thousands were maimed when poisonous gas leaked from the Union Carbide factory, in Bhopal, in central India, in 1984. Dow bought Union Carbide in 2001.

Dow, a global Olympic sponsor since 2010, stepped in to fund the high-tech fabric wrap for the 2012 Olympic Stadium, which was controversially ditched in last year’s government bid to save £7 million. Savings of £20m had been called for.

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London 2012 chairman Lord Coe was told a cross-party group of MPs is launching a campaign to raise concerns over the issue.

Home affairs committee chairman Keith Vaz and former Olympics minister Tessa Jowell have also stressed their concerns to Lord Coe. At least 21 Indian Olympic athletes have called for the Dow sponsorship to be scrapped.

Lord Coe told the Culture, Media and Sport Committee: “I am the grandson of an Indian so I am not completely unaware of this as an issue, but I am satisfied that at no time did Dow operate, own, or were involved with the plant, either at the time of the disaster or crucially at the time of the full and final settlement.

“The Indian Supreme Court has upheld on two previous occasions the settlement that was reached by the previous owners of that plant.”

Asked if he was concerned about the harm the Dow-Bhopal connection could have to the Olympics, Lord Coe said: “I am satisfied that the ownership, operation and the involvement either at the time of the disaster or at the final settlement was not the responsibility of Dow.”