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Olympics: Bhopal victims hold protest Games

Disabled children suffering the effects of the 1984 Bhopal disaster in India are to take part in a "Special Olympics" on Thursday to protest against London 2012 sponsor Dow Chemical.

BHOPAL, INDIA //  Disabled children suffering the effects of the 1984 Bhopal disaster in India are to take part in a "Special Olympics" on Thursday to protest against London 2012 sponsor Dow Chemical.

The event is aimed at raising awareness of the legacy of birth defects and pollution following the accident at a factory owned by US chemical company Union Carbide, which was bought by Dow in 1999, organisers said.

The plant leaked poisonous gas into neighbouring slums in Bhopal, killing thousands instantly and tens of thousands more in subsequent years, in the world's worst industrial accident.

The "Bhopal Special Olympics" will see physically and mentally disabled children compete on a sports field in the shadow of the defunct factory, which still contains toxic waste left untreated by authorities.

The events in Bhopal -- the day before the London Games officially open -- will include football, an "assisted walk" and a "crab walk", in which participants unable to stand on two feet race on their hands.

"We are doing this mostly due to Dow's attempt to greenwash its crimes," Rachna Dhingra, a spokeswoman for the five survivors' groups behind the initiative, told AFP.

"We all find it ironic that a corporation that has disabled people in Bhopal is sponsoring the Olympic Games."

The decision by London 2012 organisers to stick by Dow Chemical has caused anger in Bhopal and led to complaints from the Indian government, which asked for the company to be dropped as a sponsor.

Dow bought Union Carbide more than a decade-and-a-half after the disaster and insists all liabilities were settled in a 1989 compensation deal that saw Union Carbide pay the Indian government $470 million.

Updated: July 27, 2012 04:00 AM

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