The London Assembly, the body that helps the Mayor of London administer the city, has condemned Dow Chemicals’ involvement in the London Olympics, warning that its role as a leading International Olympic Committee Sponsor had “caused damage to the reputation” of the forthcoming Games. Members of the committee voted by 16 to 7 to endorse a motion brought by Labour assembly member Navin Shah, which called for the IOC and national organising committees to consider “environmental, social, ethical and human rights records” of firms when awarding deals.

Selection criteria

They also called on the London Organising Committee (LOCOG) to press the IOC to introduce criteria for the selection of partners for future games, and review their relationship with Dow.

“Dow are the prime example of an unethical sponsor,” said Mr Shah.

During the debate, Assembly members called for an urgent review of the process by which Dow had come to be selected, rejecting the defence that the company had not owned the Bhopal plant at the time of the disaster.

“It would be a ridiculous situation if any company was absolved of wrongdoing by process of a takeover,” Green Party assembly member Darren Johnson said during the debate.

Protests have been taking place in London over the past year over Dow’s involvement. Along with being one of the IOC’s “TOP” sponsors through to 2020, it has provided the Olympic stadium with a wrap that Mr Sebastian Coe, the chair of LOCOG has described as the “icing on the cake.”

LOCOG has stuck to the line that it had confirmed that Dow had “never owned or operated the facility in Bhopal” and that remediation was under the control of Indian courts.

Activists have criticised a total lack of engagement: repeated attempts to persuade LOCOG to meet with survivors of the 1984 disaster have gone ignored, says Colin Toogood of the Bhopal Medical Appeal.

Important message

While the Assembly vote is non-binding and won’t halt Dow’s involvement in the Games, activists say it sends an important message.

“This is incredibly significant,” says Ms Meredith Alexander, who resigned as a member of the Commission for Sustainable London 2012 over Dow Chemicals’ role in the Games.

“These are representatives of London and show how the host city’s having Dow involved in the Games is a toxic stain on the conscience of Londoners, which really represents the responses we’ve been getting.”