openDemocracyUK

Unbound by the charter

The Olympic Charter outlines the social and democratic importance of this global event. But the conduct of the vast majority of London 2012's sponsors is in stark opposition to these endeavors. A coalition of athletes speaks out about the blatent disregard of these core values. 

Athletes Against
4 June 2012

This piece is part of our debate 'The Great British Summer?'.

Athletes Against Dow Chemical's Olympic Sponsorship was launched as a reaction to Lord Coe's declaration that: "no one has a problem with Dow Chemical's Olympic sponsorship, besides a few small groups."

First of all, the Indian and Vietnamese governments, who have asked for Dow Chemical's removal, are not "a few small groups."

Secondly, most athletes know very little about Dow Chemical, which is why we started this forum, to share information with fellow athletes. Ignorance is acceptance by default.

The Olympics, unlike the majority of the world's sporting competitions, is based on a Charter. The Olympic Charter outlines the aims of the movement clearly, to promote health, equality and peace through sport.

While Lord Coe may have poorly educated himself in regards to Dow Chemical's recent and past violations, he should be familiar with this document.

It is extrememly disheartening to see the Olympics, not only sponsored by companies that have recently violated national and international laws, but that are overwhelmingly military defense contractors. Not one of the TOP sponsor's board of directors exhibits gender equality. In fact, three companies have no women on their boards whatsoever. How did Lord Coe think that these companies reflect health, equality and peace?

Because Olympic sponsors are not considered Olympic participants, even though they use the Olympic logo and brand to promote their companies, they are not bound to the Code of Ethics or Olympic Charter.

It is time this oversight was changed.

If athletes, coaches, officials, etc. are all bound to the Olympic Charter and Code of Ethics, sponsors should be as well.

In the meantime we will continue to share information about the Olympic sponsors and ask for Dow Chemical's removal from the Olympic movement.

We have no spokesperson, no funding, no affiliation. We are just a forum and campaign for athletes, by athletes.

We exchange information and act as a platform for athletes to express their discontent about the inclusion of Dow Chemical in the Olympic movement and to ask for sponsors to be bound to the Olympic Charter and Code of Ethics.

We feel the Olympic Games are special, their ideals and aspirations are inspiring, and it's a movement that most athletes dream and strive to be a part of.

The decision of the IOC and the London Organizing Committee to include sponsors who do not reflect the aims of the Olympic Charter is deeply heartbreaking and disappointing.

We have contacted Lord Coe with our concerns, he never replied.

For more information about the campaign click here.

Is it time to pay reparations?

The Black Lives Matter movement has renewed demands from activists in the US and around the world seeking compensation for the legacies of slavery and colonialism. But what would a reparative economic agenda practically entail and what models exist around the world?

Join us for this free live discussion at 5pm UK time (12pm EDT), Thursday 17 June.

Hear from:

  • Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor: Author of Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership
  • Esther Stanford-Xosei: Jurisconsult, Pan-Afrikan Reparations Coalition in Europe (PARCOE).
  • Ronnie Galvin: Managing Director for Community Investment, Greater Washington Community Foundation and Senior Fellow, The Democracy Collaborative.
  • Chair, Aaron White: North American economics editor, openDemocracy
Who is bankrolling Britain's democracy? Which groups shape the stories we see in the press; which voices are silenced, and why? Sign up here to find out.

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