The London Olympics 2012 is witnessing a fresh controversy as a medical group is calling for a sponsorship review. Many groups have lashed out against some of the key sponsors like McDonalds, Coke and Cadbury. British doctors say it’s sending out a wrong message in a country where obesity is ballooning.
The Academy of Royal Medical Colleges (which represents over 2,00,000 health professionals) has asked the British government to restrict advertising of the controversial sponsors during the Olympics games to be held in London from 27th July to 12th August.
This is, in fact, not the first time that the London Olympics has generated news because of its controversial sponsors. Touted to be ‘the greenest game ever’, it’s indeed ironical that three of the official sponsors namely Dow Chemicals, BP and Rio Tinto have rightly come under attack from environment and human right activists. The companies are currently embroiled in lawsuits over alleged commission of large-scale environmental harm.
If you are still wondering why the sponsors are receiving criticism, read on to know more about the five controversial sponsors of the summer Olympics 2012!
Quite famous for being unhealthy, McDonalds will open the world’s largest restaurant at the London Olympics park with a seating capacity of 1500 and will be the only restaurateur allowed to sell branded food at the games. The ‘official’ restaurant will be rolling out over 50,000 big Mac burgers and 1,80,000 portions of fries to Olympic spectators! (I wonder if athletes will also indulge in the junk food)! The fast food chain is blamed for contributing to the obesity problem of many developed countries!
The soft drink giant is also receiving a backlash by the medical fraternity for spreading unhealthy habits among youngsters and then choosing to sponsor games that are meant to be celebrate healthy living!! It further faces allegations of poor treatment to African laborers harvesting oranges in Italy. Having spent millions on sponsorship, Coke will have exclusive rights to sell non-alcoholic beverages in Olympic stadiums.
It is perhaps the most controversial sponsor of the Olympics. Human right activists have protested against its inclusion because of its ties with Union Carbide, the company that was responsible for the inhuman Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984 in India.
Considered the world’s worst industrial catastrophe, it’s killed an estimated 15,000 people and lakhs of people continue to suffer with physical defects. The Indian government had also urged the organizers to drop the chemical corporation, but the IOC (International Olympics Committee) decided to stand by its decision. The Olympic stadium will drape in a cover sponsored by this very controversial company.
In 2010, this multi-national oil and gas company’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico drew global outrage but it still chose to tag itself as a “sustainability partner” for the London Olympics .The oil spill was the largest marine accident in the history of the petroleum industry and adversely affected marine life and the ecology. It’s rather amusing that British Petroleum (BP) hasn’t still cleaned up the leak but is spending millions in re-branding its image by being the official oil and gas partner at the 2012 Olympics (reasons enough to outrage activists, don’t you think?).
Another multinational mining corporation is in the news for all wrong reasons. Rio Tinto, a mining company, is providing metal for the medals of the Olympics. However, reports reveal that the ‘medals’ (signifying victory) will carry with it stories of environmental abuse. The metal will come from its mines in Utan and Mongolia; both of which have had allegations of environmental harm. The company is also facing human right abuses at mines in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. It’s a question if the company’s presence at the games helps in promoting Olympics as ‘environment friendly’.
Let’s not forget the Olympic Games are a big business and countries shell out billions to host them. Top sponsors pay at least $100 million each. The London Olympics organizing committee had estimated the costs to be $ 5 billion but the expenditure is now over 15 billion dollars. No wonder the organizers choose to defend all the controversial sponsors!
Protests against them is so intense that critics of Dow Chemicals, BP and Rio Tinto, in particular, have decided to label them as ‘worst corporate sponsors”. A campaign called ‘Greenwash Gold 2012’ (link: http://www.greenwashgold.org/) is asking people to vote online for the most unethical sponsor.
It’s highly unlikely that the Olympic committee will now drop any of its sponsors but raging controversy has done enough harm to the spirit of the games!
What do you feel about the controversy? Should companies with unethical records be allowed to sponsor the Olympics? Feel free to share your views with us.