New Delhi: British Prime Minister David Cameron has said he would be "very sad" if India boycotted the London Olympics following the row over sponsorship of the
event by Dow Chemicals, linked to the Bhopal Gas tragedy of 1984.
However, Cameron dubbed Dow Chemicals as a "reputable company" and said he did not want to see the Olympics used for industrial or political purposes.
"It would be a very sad day," he told a TV channel when asked about a possible boycott by India of the London Olympics.
Cameron said he felt "huge sympathy" for those injured and killed in the Bhopal gas disaster but insisted boycotting the Olympics was not the "right action".
"By all means, take up the issue with the International Olympics Committee (IOC) but a boycott will not be the right action. I will be very sad for Indian athletes, sad for India, Britain, of course. I will be desperately sad. But I cannot tell people to come. I have fulfilled all my responsibilities. I hope the Indian athletes will come," he said.
Cameron said his responsibilities were to make sure that the Olympics were properly staged and to ensure that all the athletes feel welcome.
He said Britain and India were "old friends and old partners" and British athletes had enjoyed participating in the 2010 Commonwealth Games held in Delhi.
"Obviously, people have a difficulty with individual Olympics sponsors. I don`t happen to share that view in the way you put it. People who do (have a problem) may take it up with the IOC and they have to make their own decisions," he
Asked whether the sporting event could be an ideal opportunity to make Dow realise its responsibilities towards Bhopal victims, he said it was for the people to make their own decisions and to take up their own choices.
"What I am saying as British Prime Minister wanting to see the Olympics to be successful is I want to see the Olympics not used for industrial or political or other purposes. I cannot see a problem with International Olympic Committee
(IOC) being sponsored by Dow," he said.
After Indian Olympic Association failed to convince the IOC to drop Dow Chemicals as the London Games` sponsor, a "dismayed" Indian Government asked the IOC to "go beyond lesser considerations" and cancel the deal.
Cameron pointed out that Dow Chemicals was not the owner of Union Carbide when the gas disaster took place.
He also made it clear that the sponsorship of the Olympics was done by the IOC. "It is their decision making process. I do not criticise their decision making process," he said.
On Eurofighter losing the bid to sell fighter aircraft to India, Cameron said he was disappointed and still felt that it was the best aircraft and would continue to press for it.
Asked whether the decision had affected the ties between India and Britain, he replied in the negative.
Cameron also defended the proposed hike in university fees saying it was necessary to ensure that British institutes maintain high standards of education.