Coe defends chemical firm’s Olympics tie-up

Lord Coe, the chairman of London’s 2012 Olympic organising committee, has defending having Dow Chemical as a sponsor of the event, despite criticism over its links to a gas leak in India that killed thousands.

An estimated 15,000 people died in 1984 when gas leaked out of a Union Carbide pesticide plant in the central Indian city of Bhopal.

Dow bought Union Carbide in 2001 and says legal claims from the disaster have been resolved.

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Victims of the accident, as well as former Indian Olympians and officials, have been pressuring Olympic organisers to drop Dow as a sponsor.

Less than two weeks ago, protesters in Bhopal burned an effigy of the head of Lord Coe.

Lord Coe said: “Of course I understand the human scale of that suffering, but these are two very different issues.”

The United States-based chemical manufacturer will pay for a curtain-style wrap to encircle the Olympic Stadium in east London under a deal announced in August.

“Dow were never the operators or the owners of that chemical plant in 1984, nor were they the operators or the owners of the plant in 1989 when the final settlement was agreed,” Lord Coe told reporters in Beijing. “And in fact, that final settlement was upheld on two separate occasions by the Indian supreme court.”

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