Athletes protest against Dow Chemical’s Olympic sponsorship

Photo: JL08/Flickr


By Play the Game

A long line of former and current Olympic athletes have joined forces to protest against Dow Chemical as an Olympic sponsor.

The campaign ‘Athletes Against Dow Chemical’s Olympic Sponsorship’ argues that the selection of Dow Chemical as sponsor is a direct contradiction to the Olympic values and Olympic Charter.

In an open letter, Athletes Against Dow Chemical’s Olympic Sponsorship presents a long list of Dow Chemical’s many health violations, such as being “named the second worst polluter by the American Environmental Protection Agency for emissions of toxic substances for 2010.”

This, they argue, is a direct contradiction to the Olympic Charter’s pledge to “encourage and support measures protecting the health of athletes.”

The decision to choose Dow Chemical as an Olympic sponsor means that athletes are now directly linked with a company that does not respect the aims of Olympism, the letter argues, and the objective of the campaign is therefore to create awareness among other athletes and to correct the IOC’s conviction that no one has any objections to Dow Chemical’s sponsorship. 

The athletes behind the initiative feel that the Olympic Charter and the Code of Ethics, which all competitors and coaches must comply with in order to be eligible to compete in the Olympics, should also be applicable to all Olympic sponsors:

“Either the IOC declares the Code of Ethics and Olympic Charter void for everyone, or it decides to apply it to all participants, including sponsors. Having double standards is not what the Olympics is about, or so we would hope.”

Also the Indian Olympic Committee and the Indian government has asked the IOC to drop Dow Chemical as sponsor, as the company since 2001 has been the owner of Union Carbide that was responsible for the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy that killed thousands of workers in Bhopal, India. The IOC has so far rejected all claims to remove Dow Chemical from the list of Olympic sponsors. 

Athletes Against Dow Chemical’s Olympic Sponsorship’s website

Open letter from Athletes Against Dow Chemical’s Olympic Sponsorship The athletes behind the campaign

Athletes Against Dow Chemical’s Olympic Sponsorship on Facebook

  • Athlete Against Dow, Vancouver, BC, 07.03.2012 08:35:
    Thank you for making the correction :)
  • Play the Game , Denmark, 07.03.2012 08:34:
    We didn't mean to indicate that Nikki Dryden was running the campaign, but can understand why it might have been perceived in that way. It has now been changed.
  • Athlete Against Dow, Vancouver, BC, 07.03.2012 08:33:
    We would like to point out an error in this article. Nikki Dryden is not running the Athletes Against Dow Chemical’s Olympic sponsorship campaign. It was never stated in any of our press releases, nor on this site, that she was.

    She is one of the many brave athletes, however, that is speaking out. The athletes who make a statement, are doing so because they believe in preserving the aims of the Olympic movement, as outlined in the open letter.

    The campaign’s sole objectives are to inform fellow athletes about the contradictions between Dow Chemical and other sponsors and the aims of Olympism. We want to provide a place where athletes can come together to voice their disappointment and concern over the IOC’s sponsor selection process.

    The Olympic movement, afterall, belongs to no one. But if we want the Olympic movement to retain its spirit of friendship, fairplay and health, athletes must speak out.
  • Len Aldis, London. UK, 06.03.2012 08:31:
    Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society
    Flat 2, 26 Tomlins Grove, London E3 4NX
    Secretary: Len Aldis
    Tel: 0208 980 7146. Mobile: 0779 657 1017
    Skype: Len.Aldis


    Lord Coe. Chair; Sir Keith Mills, Deputy Chair; HRH the Princess Royal; Charles Allen;
    Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari; Sir Phillip Craven; Paul Deighton, Chief Exe; Jonathan Edwards;
    Tony Hall; Andrew Hunt; Justin King; Stephen Lovegrove; Adam Penglly; Tim Reddish;
    Lord Moynihan; Sir Craig Reedie; Martin Stewart; Sir Robin Wales. Mayor of Newham; Neil Wood.

    In a few weeks, unless you take action, the Olympic Stadium will have been surrounded by a wrap comprising 336 giant panels made by a company responsible for deaths of many thousands, including thousands of babies that died in their mother’s womb. Responsible for the deaths of many more thousands of those that lived for just a few months.

    That company is Dow Chemical, whose record was known to each and everyone of you through the many court cases it has had brought against them in the United States for disposing of tonnes of highly toxic waste into rivers and lakes near its plants. For lawsuits brought by American Vietnam Veterans and Vietnamese suffering from the effects of Agent Orange.

    But let me remind each of you, the biggest crime of Dow Chemical was its part, along with 35 other U.S. Chemical Companies, headed by Monsanto, in manufacturing Agent Orange used with devastating effect on Southern Vietnam for a period of TEN-YEARS, yes, TEN-YEARS. 80 million litres of the chemical was sprayed over the forests, crops, hamlets and the PEOPLE themselves, from August 1961 to 1971, resulting in the deaths mentioned above.

    Through the use of Agent Orange, Dow Chemical and the others have left a legacy that today in Vietnam affects four million. It has also entered into the fourth generation. From my first visit in 1989 and each year since, I have met and seen many of these tragic victims, of all ages, from new born babies that are minus feet and sometimes hand, young children suffering from water on the brain, and their heads four-times the normal size where their illness is slowly crushing the brain that ends in death.

    I have met with youngsters minus a limb, some minus two; some will be confined to a bed or wheelchair for the rest of their lives unable to fend for themselves. In Dong Nai I met a mother and her two daughters both unable to move or speak but just lay on their bed, the mother looks after them and their needs and has done so for 42 years, the age of her eldest daughter, the other daughter is 36 years. I could describe more of the people I have met over the past 22 years. But what angers me more is when I see children affected that were born after the spraying stopped in 1971 and long after the ward ended in 1975.

    This is what Dow Chemicals has done to the people of Vietnam, and each of you have seemed fit to support the appointment of the company to be a sponsor of the Games that opens in London on 27th July despite the many objections made by people from a number of countries.
    Shame on you all.

    Len Aldis. Secretary

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