New Delhi: March 29, 2012
India has not asked its athletes to boycott the London Olympics over Dow Chemicals sponsorship. This was stated by Shri Ajay Maken, Minister of State (I/C) for Youth Affairs & Sports, in the Rajya Sabha today, in a written reply to a question by Shri N.K.Singh.
Regarding the steps taken by Government to register a protest with the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) over the Dow Chemicals sponsorship, the Sports Minister stated that the matter had also been taken up through diplomatic channel with Government of U.K. While the United Kingdom Government has taken the position that the sponsorship by Dow was an arrangement between the International Olympic Committee and Dow Chemicals Company, the International Olympic Committee as well as London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) have indicated their inability to drop Dow as a sponsor of the London Olympic Games. In view of the response so far, it has been agreed that the matter should continue to be taken up to create a wider awareness about strong and legitimate view on this issue widely through our Missions in countries which are members of the International Olympic Committee to the host Government(s) as well as the Olympic Association of the host country. This would help to raise the diplomatic awareness on this subject and create a wider understanding of our position. It would also serve to remind the rest of the world that the tragedy of Bhopal lingers on and evokes deep public sympathy in the country for the innocent victims. The Government will continue to increase awareness amongst other Olympian countries about our justified grievance on this issue and reiterate our support to the strong public sensitivities, the Minister added.
The Minister further stated that earlier Government of India had advised the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to take up the issue of sponsorship of London Olympics, 2012 by M/s. Dow Chemicals emphatically with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to draw its attention to the sensitivities of the victims of Bhopal Gas tragedy, 1984. It was pointed out to Indian Olympic Association that the association of International Olympic Committee with Dow Chemicals militates against the fundamental ethical principles represented by the Olympic movement. IOA took up the matter with IOC and London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) conveying India’s concerns on this sensitive issue and asking them to re-consider the decision about the sponsorship by Dow Chemicals for London Olympics, 2012. In response to IOA’s taking up the matter with IOC, the latter replied stating that Dow Chemicals had no connection with the Bhopal tragedy since Dow Chemicals did not have any ownership stake in Union Carbide until 16 years after the accident and 12 years after the US $ 470 million compensation agreement was approved by the Supreme Court. The Ministry also took up the matter directly with International Olympic Committee (IOC) urging it to go beyond lesser considerations, and in the larger interests of the ideals of human rights, compassion and solidarity, cancel the sponsorship of Dow Chemicals for the London Olympics, 2012, thereby apart from assuaging the feelings of millions of people, send a strong message the world over, for upholding the noble ideals of the Olympic Movement, the Minister added.