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Questions over the decision to accept the sponsorship of the Olympic Stadium ‘wrap around’ from Dow Chemical were brought back into the spotlight yesterday as Meredith Alexander head of policy at ‘ActionAid’ resigned from her role as board member of the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 live on Newsnight.

Her resignation came in protest at the involvement of Dow chemical as an Olympic sponsor despite the companies links to the Bhopal Disaster of 1984. It should be said that Dow Chemical itself played no part in the disaster, however having purchased Union Carbide the company responsible for the Bhopal plant in 1984 Alexander felt that ;

“they got the good stuff, they got the assets they got the shares, they also got any debts and any liabilities”

Alexander feels  “liabilities” includes compensation for the many thousands of victims and family members of thise who have died in the years following the disaster. An out of court settlement of $470 million was reached in 1989 and Dow Chemical stands by the assertion that this settlement was full and final; many argue this fund has been inadequate however and that victims were not fully consulted over the agreement.

I cannot hope to have a full understanding of the disaster and am in no place to point fingers. However it seems clear that awarding the deal to Dow was a pretty poor decision by LOCOG; it was only ever going to generate negative publicity. Perhaps this could have been avoided had another sponsor been chosen, however the prospect of a Nike or Mcdonalds wrap seems pretty horrible too.

Lets not forget, Dow certainly did manufacture Agent Orange and Napalm, two of the most destructive and morally questionable chemical weapons to have been used in the wars of the recent past. Giving Dow a chance to rebrand itself in the form of an environmentally sustainable wrap (open to interpretation I’m sure) is not something I want to see associated with the Olympic Games, and I wonder how any Vietnamese or Indian fans and athletes are likely to feel about entering a stadium that to them may serve as a distasteful reminder of the past.

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Last Thursday, 20/10/2011, Fran, Charlie, Bianca, Claudia, Kaspian and I were lucky enough to visit the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, a beautiful town on the edge of Lake Geneva in Switzerland. This post was written towards the end of a wonderful day.

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Today has been something of a whirlwind; up at 3:30 am, on the plane for 6:45 am and on a private tour of the museum by 10:30. The Olympic Museum has been open for eighteen years now, which almost seems like quite a short amount of time considering the hundreds of years of history that is encapsulated within the spiraling four walls of the building which also hosts the International Olympic Committee whenever they convene.

So, what can be taken away from today?
First and foremost today has confirmed to me that the Olympics can be a force for change and not only can they be, they should be for it is these principles and others like them upon which the modern Olympics are based. Equally it is clear that the Olympics past and present are full of contradictions. Avery Brundage, an American athlete and President of the IOC from 1952-1972 ,outlined his vision of the games;

“The Olympic Games must not be an end in itself, they must be a means of creating vast programme of physical education and sports competitions for all young people.”  Avery Brundage 

A vision which holds true to this day, we won the games in part because of the focus that was placed on the inclusion of young people. Yet Brundage was vehemently opposed to female competitors saying “I am fed up to the ears with women as track and field competitors… her charms sink to something less than zero.” 

Clearly two views which don’t tally up with each other in 2011 but the fact that the Olympic Museum , run by the IOC is perfectly happy to expose its own failings was a real breath of fresh air. In the same room as Usain Bolt’s 100m final jersey is an entire wall dedicated to the issue of doping and the games. To me this seems to be a clear message from the IOC to the countries it gives the games to; everybody makes mistakes, including the IOC and host countries, what’s important is that we face up to these mistakes whilst celebrating our triumphs. Sentiments that some would do well to take note of.

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The Tate modern art gallery has announced it’s chosen artist for the turbine hall during the Olympics will be Tino Sehgal. Whilst the exhibition will be running from April to October of 2012 the fact that the Olympics take place during that time is key as the work heads up the Tate’s offering to the ‘London 2012 festival’ which will run from June of 2012.

Alongside this will be the first major UK retrospective of British artist Damien Hirst’s work. Perhaps it would’ve been nicer if the Tate had really gone out on a limb for it’s 2012 programming, I’d of loved it if they had decided to fill the spaces with up and coming British artists rather than the works of a multimillionaire artist who has arguably passed the high point of his celebrity and popularity.

I know it may not necessarily be the Tate’s style to put on anything other than shows of well established artists and styles, often leaving out the more controversial pieces even within those collections. But is a retrospective really the sort of art which embodies the Olympic spirit? I’m not so sure.


On Wednesday last week the rest of the SMJ’s, some of the guys from A New Direction, Chris Skinner , Benji Lanyado and I were lucky enough to go on a tour of the Olympic park, private mini-bus and all! I had a flipcam with me, however the good old British weather and bumpy road surface combined led to some pretty shaky footage which I had assumed I wasn’t going to use. What I’m trying to say is that it’s no masterpiece but it gives a good feel of how far along the park is and some nice facts I picked up on during the tour which was narrated wonderfully by our tour guide Andy.


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Here at Headstart we’ve been busy and today I was lucky enough to interview Nathan Hanson, a fellow member of the Social Media group and a young athlete. We spoke about what he thinks should be done with the Olympic  Park after the worlds media, spectators and athletes have packed up and gone home.

An audio preview of the interview.

Nathan believes that the key part of the Parks’s and the Olympic legacy as a whole is making sure that the space is used  for community projects and sports.

For many Londoners, Nathan included, ensuring that the Olympics help to foster the talents of tomorrows as well as todays aspiring athletes for  many years to come is what will truly make the games a once in a lifetime event.


As you may have heard the Olympic Stadium is up for sale, with two bids for LOCOG to consider, one from Totenham Hotspur and the other from West Ham.

So, what are the issues?

  • West Ham say they ‘want to create a 60,000-capacity arena for football, athletics, concerts and community use.’
  • Totenham Hotspur argue that their bid is more financially viable than that of West Ham’s who may face relegation this season.
  • Totenham’s bid involves reducing capacity to 80,000 , and removing the running track. Some say this runs counter to the comitments made by London of a strong legacy and space for athletes.
  • Totenham’s instead propose renovating crystal palace running facilities to ensure a legacy.
  • Finally Leyton Orient, an historic east London club have voiced their concerns over the effects of any club taking over after 2012, they say :

“The impact on Leyton Orient will be huge. The prospect of excess capacity leading to discounted tickets and the broader appeal of the floating fans of a more high-profile club threatens to swamp us.”

This map shows just how close Orient is to the Olympic Stadium.

About Me

As a part of a project with youth charity 'A New Direction' a group of young Londoners and I blog about the London Olympic and Paralympic games in 2012. Check out my twitter feed bellow and return here for updates on what ever Olympic or Paralympic issues have got me going each week!

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