Despite controversy, Dow Chemical's wrap goes up at Olympic Stadium

LONDON (AP) -- A controversial project has begun to drape London's Olympic Stadium in a $11.4 million decorative curtain linked to Olympic sponsor Dow Chemical Co.

The move confirmed Tuesday comes despite efforts by critics to prevent the Midland, Michigan-based company from continuing its association with the 2012 London Games. Critics have argued that the top Olympic sponsor should not be involved in the project because of its links to a company accused in the 1984 gas leak in Bhopal, India.

Dow bought that company, Union Carbide, 16 years after the 1984 accident in Bhopal that killed an estimated 15,000 people. Dow maintains it was not responsible for the catastrophe and that legal claims on the case in India have long been settled.

Protests have continued nonetheless. The company's critics, including British lawmakers, say that Dow's purchase of Union Carbide makes it responsible for groundwater contamination and other issues that linger in Bhopal. Protests against the company have included the burning in effigy of Sebastian Coe, the head of the committee running the London Olympics.

Dow, the "chemistry company" of the games, wants to use the wrap to showcase its activities at the Olympics. Dow products can be found all over the Olympics - right down to the track at the stadium.

"Our goal is to provide solutions that help make the Olympic Games more sustainable, safer and that will help improve performance," said George Hamilton, vice president of Dow Olympic Operations. "The Olympic Stadium wrap is only one of Dow's many contributions to the London 2012 Olympic Games."

The wrap will hang in strips from the rafters of the steel-latticed stadium in east London and largely used as huge sign boards so people can find their seats. It will not have the word "Dow" printed on it because of Olympic rules forbidding advertising. Dow, however, can use the wrap in its own ads.

Dow took on the wrap project after British Olympic officials decided its original price tag of 7 million pounds ($11.4 million) was too expensive to fund at time of economic austerity.

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