The Bhopal disaster
was one of the world's worst industrial catastrophes, which killed around 25,000 residents of Bhopal. The people died in the aftermath of a massive gas leak in a pesticide factory owned by Union Carbide, a U.S. company purchased by Dow Chemical in 2001.
The leak put 40 tons of deadly methyl isocyanate gas into the air. Many of the victims
who were exposed to the leak died a terrible death, burned by the corrosive gas, suffering respiratory failure.
Not only did the disaster kill people, but also thousands of survivors live with the debilitating effects of exposure to the gas. According to activists, around 500,000 people are still suffering from illnesses developed after the tragedy, and cancer, blindness and birth defects have affected many children born since the catastrophe occurred.
repeatedly denied any involvement or liability in the tragedy and refuses to add to the $470 million compensation that was paid out by Union Carbide in 1989.
against the fact that Dow Chemicals is sponsoring the London Olympics 2012, and having failed to get Dow Chemicals' Olympic sponsorship quashed, the 1984 Bhopal gas leak disaster activists organized the Bhopal Olympics, where the survivors of the 1984 disaster are holding their own Games.
Around 80 disabled children between the ages of five and 16 have participated in ten sports in Bhopal in their own "Special Olympics".
Some of the children were in wheelchairs when competing. Some played football. Others pushed themselves across the grass in a race. Some participated in a "clean up Bhopal" exercise where they carried brooms to symbolize their demand that Dow clean up the plant
Onlookers in the stands held banners reading "Don't let Dow Chem contaminate Olympics
" and "Dow Poisons". Other signs said that Dow's participation in the London Olympics should make one "ashamed to be a Brit."
But they all enjoyed themselves.
Jamila Bi brought her wheelchair-bound 11-year-old grandson, Amaan, who has cerebral palsy and said, "Today these children are participating, in spite of what Union Carbide did to them. We are happy that they will walk. Those people will see that in spite of what they did, these children are still participating."
The organizers' spokeswoman, Racha Dhingra told Reuters
: "We have been protesting against Dow's sponsorship for a year now, we want them to be dropped. But we have realized this is not going to happen."
"The London Games organizers 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."
The "Bhopal Special Olympics" were run on July 26, just one day before the London Olympics starts.