When the International Olympic Committee announced that the 2012 Olympics would be in London many people were supportive of the decision. It would be a great boon to the city, and the local economy. That unhindered support, however, quickly changed. At the beginning it was just petty things like a terrible logo design that raised its fair share of crackpot conspiracy theories: its a modern form of the swastika, or that the the logo when read backwards reads Izzo, a nickname for the rapper Jay-Z. Most importantly is that things have started to turn political.
In February of this year the National Olympic Committee of Iran called upon the IOC to change the £400,000 logo because they though it was a hidden pro-Israeli message. “As Internet documents have proved, using the word Zion in the logo of 2012 Olympic Games is a disgracing action and against Olympics’ valuable mottos,” the Iranian Olympic Committee said in an open letter.
The complaint notably was written four years after the publication of the 2012 logo. The IOC responded, “The London 2012 logo represents the figure 2012, nothing else.” Iran has called for a boycotting of the 2012 Olympics.
Most recently there has been a major controversy about one of the main sponsors for the event, Dow Chemical Company. Dow is sponsoring the stadium wrapping, a seven million dollar deal. Many environmentalists have questioned this deal because of an environmental disaster that happened in Bhopal India.
In 1984 the chemical company Union Carbide changed the city of Bhopal forever with possibly the worst industrial environmental catastrophe in history.. On the night of December 3rd at the Bhopal pesticide plant in India, water had leaked into the canisters containing methyl isocyanate, which then leaked in the form of a toxic gas across the city of Bhopal. About 3,000 people died from the incident and an estimated 8,000 have died from gas-related diseases. The general conditions of the plant were horrendous. With workers being told not to replace faulty parts, and there was no plan in place for knowing how to deal with such an incident. The alarms had not been functioning for four years, the boiler was not on for unknown reasons, but the few safety measures that were put into place, such as water sprayers to reduce the concentration of the gas were barely functioning; the list goes on and on.
The Indian government passed the Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster Act, which granted the government the right to represent everyone who was affected by the disaster. Union Carbide offered to pay out a mere $350 million when the government demanded $3.3 billion dollars. They eventually decided on a $470 million compensation. Not long after Union Carbide decided to sell off their Indian subsidiary (UCIL), and were forced to finance a 500 bed hospital that would give free health care to all of those affected by the Bhopal disaster; that was in 1998.
Eventually the Dow chemical company acquired UCIL, and now they are experiencing the heat. The recent Olympic deal has angered many people who have demanded that they give more compensation to the hundreds of thousands of people who have been affected by the Bhopal disaster. Most recently India announced that they were going to have a meeting yesterday, December 5th, but backed down after the IOC urged them not to vote on the matter. Acting president VK Malhotra, a member of India’s main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party said, “There is no question of India boycotting the London Olympics. We are not boycotting Olympic Games and that is very clear on Indian Olympic Association’s part … but we want to express in black and white that there has been opposition in the country with the London Games being associated with Dow Chemical. We have to take account of their sentiments.”
India has not been the only one to complain, Britain has as well. The Telegraph reported that, “One of the councils neighbouring Olympic Park, Tower Hamlets, is now set to debate a motion to demand the removal of the wrap because it does not meet the Locog sustainable sourcing code.”
Sebastian Coe, the chairman of the IOC defended the deal, saying that Dow should not be held responsible because they were never directly involved with the Disaster.
“I am the grandson of an Indian so I am not completely unaware of this as an issue,” Coe said. “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 that the full and final settlement was made.”
It looks as if the 2012 Olympic Games will continue, unaffected by the complaints of humanitarians around the world. There have only been quiet rumblings of anyone actually boycotting the Olympics, and no player has come forward saying that they will. The debate continues over the 2012 Olympics continues, but one thing is certain; nobody is listening.