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Updated: July 24, 2012 19:29 IST

Gas tragedy victims to hold ‘Bhopal Olympics’

Mahim Pratap Singh
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On the eve of 27th Anniversary, the survivors of the Bhopal gas disaster demonstrating towards the replica of London Olympic Stadium, protesting against the choice of Dow Chemical as sustainability partner of the 2012 Olympics. A file Photo: A.M.Faruqui
The Hindu
On the eve of 27th Anniversary, the survivors of the Bhopal gas disaster demonstrating towards the replica of London Olympic Stadium, protesting against the choice of Dow Chemical as sustainability partner of the 2012 Olympics. A file Photo: A.M.Faruqui

Even as the world prepares to witness the spectacle of the London Olympics starting Friday, victims and survivors of the Bhopal gas tragedy have decided to pre-empt the organisers of the London Olympics by holding the “Bhopal Special Olympics” in Bhopal on Thursday.

Five survivor organizations, led by the Bhopal Group for Information and Action (BGIA), will be jointly organizing “Bhopal Special Olympics” on July 26, a day ahead of the London Olympics to oppose sponsorship of the Olympic Games by Dow Chemical-the current owner of Union Carbide Corporation-which “continues to evade civil, criminal and environmental liabilities of Bhopal inherited from Union Carbide”.

Children born with disabilities as a fallout of the world's worst industrial disaster, would be participating in the “Bhopal Olympics” to counter Dow Chemical’s attempts to “green wash its crimes through the sponsorship of the Olympic Games”, representatives of the five organizations said here.

The Bhopal Olympics, with the theme “From East India Company to the Dow Chemical Company”, will be held in a stadium right behind the abandoned Union Carbide factory that continues to leach carcinogenic chemicals in the local groundwater, causing birth defects in children even today.

The games will start at 10.30 am on Thursday in the Arif Nagar stadium behind the abandoned Union Carbide factory.

Children affected by this toxic contamination will participate in sporting events such as “crab race”, “25 metres sprint” and “assisted walking”, all aimed at bringing out the plight of those who continue to live in the shadow of the tragedy that shook Bhopal from its slumber on the intervening night of 2nd and 3rd December 1984.

“Contrary to the opening ceremony of the London Olympics that is expected to highlight all that a British citizen could be proud of, the Bhopal Special Olympics will open with songs and dances focusing on matters that British people could be ashamed of,” Rachna Dhingra of the BGIA told The Hindu.

The opening ceremony will draw attention to the many famines caused during the British rule in India, the mass hangings following the “first battle for Indian independence in 1857”, the massacre at Jalianwala Bagh in 1919 and last but not the least, to the support extended by the British Prime Minister to the Dow Chemical Company.

Over the last one year, victims have been campaigning to get Dow Chemical dropped as a sponsor of the games, an effort that even found favour with the Government of India and the Government of Madhya Pradesh. However, the LOCOG and the IOC have backed Dow Chemical throughout the controversy, holding the company “not responsible” for the tragedy and even hailing it as “an industry leader in terms of operating with the highest standards of ethics and sustainability”.

“The London Olympics 2012 has laid to rest the spirit of Olympism-namely the quest for world peace, environmental sustainability and health through sport,” said Ms. Dhingra.

Through the counter-Olympics, victims seek to “underline the irony of a corporation that has disabled thousands of children in Bhopal, Vietnam, Nicaragua, New Zealand, USA and other countries, sponsoring the Olympic Games-an event that celebrates human physical effort”.

A unique and novel initiative to air the gievences of the poeple immensely affected by the horrendous industrial disaster.Let the world see what happened to the thousands of poeple aftermath of the tragedy.They fell prey to political games and it is highly strange that that they did not recieve enough compensation for the worst effect on their lives.I sincerely appreciate the organisers of the proposed programme .Sympathising with the affected , i express my solidarity and look forward to see the initiative.

from:  divakaran pallikunnil
Posted on: Jul 25, 2012 at 15:15 IST

thank you for highlighting this effort
irony is sometimes the best way to illustrate a point
the bhopal tragedy is one event that shows the true callousness of people in power, in charge, leaders both corporate and political and the often helplessness of the masses.

from:  hari bhakta
Posted on: Jul 24, 2012 at 23:52 IST

If India really thought about their citizens why can't India boycott Olympics?

from:  svs
Posted on: Jul 24, 2012 at 22:01 IST

The government of India should take some steps towards the worst industrial accident,it is a shame on every Indian shame that no is concern a bit about.

from:  M.Preethi
Posted on: Jul 24, 2012 at 20:44 IST
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