Olympics-Bhopal victims protest against Dow with own 'Games'

July 26 Thu Jul 26, 2012 10:27am EDT

July 26 (Reuters) - Survivors of the Bhopal gas leak in 1984 held their own special version of the Olympic Games in India on Thursday as a form of protest against the sponsorship of the London Games by Dow Chemical.

About 80 disabled children ranging from ages five to 16 took part in 10 sports in Bhopal, in protest at the company's link with the International Olympic Committee and Dow's refusal to increase a 1989 compensation package for victims of the leak.

The children raced in wheelchairs, with the assistance of walkers and also played soccer during the three-hour event, organisers said.

"We have been protesting against Dow's sponsorship for a year now, we want them to be dropped," organisers' spokeswoman Rachna Dhingra told Reuters of the protest against the company, which has a sponsorship agreement with the IOC until 2020.

"But we have realised this is not going to happen."

As many as 25,000 residents of Bhopal died in the aftermath of the gas leak at a pesticide factory that was owned by a subsidiary of Union Carbide in 1984.

According to activists, about 100,000 people who were exposed to the gas now suffer from ailments that range from cancer, blindness and birth defects.

Dow, which bought Union Carbide in 2001, has repeatedly denied any responsibility for Bhopal and has refused demands, including from the Indian government, to increase a $470-million compensation package that Union Carbide paid to victims in 1989.

"The London Games organisers are trying to greenwash the crimes of Dow," Dhingra said.

"Tomorrow everyone is going to say how great it is and feel proud after the opening ceremony is held.

"We want them to feel ashamed."

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