10 Aug 2011

Dow sponsorship of London Olympics draws protests

12:30 pm on 10 August 2011

Campaigners in India are protesting against the sponsorship of the 2012 London Olympics by the Dow Chemical Company.

They say that the Games should not be associated with the company because it is still involved in court cases relating to the Bhopal chemical disaster in 1984.

Campaigners say the company should not be allowed "to detoxify" its brand.

The BBC reports that London Games organisers welcomed Dow for funding $US11.4 million worth of artwork.

Dow says legal claims surrounding the incident were resolved in 1989, long before it acquired Union Carbide.

Dow Chemicals bought Union Carbide - which then owned the plant - in 1999. It has said in the past that its settlement of $US470 million for those affected by the tragedy was fair and final.

The Indian government says some 3500 people died within days of the leak and more than 15,000 have died since then.

Campaigners put the death toll as high as 25,000 and say the effects of the leak continue to this day.

Activists fighting for the survivors of the disaster are calling on the Indian government to officially protest against London 2012's move.

"Dow as sponsor of Olympics is like a dance on the graves of Bhopal gas victims," said Satinath Sarangi of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action.

The BBC reports the campaign is supported by former world hockey champion, Aslam Sher Khan, who has suggested that India should consider boycotting the London Olympics over the issue.

He was part of the Indian World Cup team in 1975 which won gold.

Dow insists that while the past must never be forgotten, its ''position as a Worldwide Olympic partner'' represents its ''vision for the future''.

''Fundamentally, the Olympic Games are about peace, progress, sustainability and the world coming together to celebrate our common humanity. We share that vision and are committed to achieving it,'' a company spokesman said.