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IOA continue to protest of Dow as London Olympics sponsor

December 14, 2011 17:23 IST

A day ahead of the crucial General Body Meeting of the Indian Olympic Association on the controversial Dow Chemicals issue, its acting president VK Malhotra, on Wednesday, demanded the company to be removed from being one of the sponsors of the 2012 London Games.

The IOA GBM is to meet on Thursday and Friday to take a decision on how to make it be known to the London Olympic organizers about the Indian peoples' protests over a company linked with Union Carbide, which had killed thousands in the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy.

Malhotra, however, stopped short of calling for an Olympic boycott by India though he had said earlier that the country ill affords to do so.

"Olympics are about love, brotherhood and transparency and this company (Dow) is linked with another which was responsible for killing thousands of Indian people. It's unacceptable that such a company is a sponsor in the Olympics. So we will ask the London organisers to remove the company from being a sponsor," Malhotra said.

He said the IOA has written to the Prime Minister and Sports Minister about this, seeking advice for coordinated response to the issue.

"I have written to the Prime Minister and Sports Minister what actions they are going to take. We are also taking our own action and it is better it is not different from what the government is taking," he said.

Over 15,000 people died and lakhs disabled in 1984 when gas leaked out of a Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal. Dow bought Union Carbide in 2001.

Victims of the disaster, as well as Indian Olympians and officials, have been pressuring 2012 Olympic organisers to drop Dow as a sponsor.

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.

London Games organising committee chief Sebastian Coe had, however, defended Dow being one of the sponsors, saying that its links with Union Carbide came 17 years after the Bhopal gas leak and it cannot be held responsible for the tragedy.

"I understand the human scale of that suffering, but these are two completely different issues. 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," Coe had said.

"Dow became the major shareholders in that company only in 2001, some 17 years after the tragedy. I feel comfortable after analysing the history of this case," he had said.

With the protests over the Bhopal gas tragedy intensifying, the IOA has been saying that somehow it will have to express the "sentiments of the people".

"The sentiments of the people should be put forth. We cannot ignore them. We have informed the IOC of the protests in India (about Dow Chemical being a sponsor)," Randhir Singh, also an IOC member, said on Tuesday.

"IOA president has issued a statement in this issue. But the final decision and modality of how to put forth the sentiments of people will be taken at the General Body Meeting on December 15-16. We will write to IOC if need be," he said.

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