New Delhi: The athletes will play a vital role in deciding whether India will boycott the London Olympic Games if the IOC refuses to drop Dow Chemicals as a sponsor of the event, Sports Minister Ajay Maken has said.
Maken said he does not want confusion in the minds of the sportspersons and hence the decision to boycott or not will be taken when the appropriate time comes.
"There is no doubt in the minds of the players. If we start consulting players, are we then not creating confusion. Athletes will have a very important role in that.
"What athletes feel, will play a very important role in our decision. It will have a bearing on the decision we take," Maken said in an interview.
Asked what the government will do if the IOC eventually rejects its demand to drop Dow Chemicals as sponsors, Maken responded by saying, "It`s a difficult question, very hypothetical one. We have not yet decided on this."
"We do have a plan, (but) why divulge the plan now." Maken insisted that the government has not yet decided if the Indian officials should boycott the opening and closing ceremony of the Games.
"We have not yet decided on that. I can`t say anything on that. We will keep in mind the sensitivities and feelings of the Bhopal people as well as feelings of the players.
"For us we would not like to choose anything of the two. We are going full steam as far as the preparations are concerned. We have put in the best coaches and the best places to train," he said.
Asked if India will boycott the Games, Maken said, "I would not like to say anything on that. I am still hopeful, we will be able to find a solution."
Maken said the spirit of Olympics will not be followed if Dow are not removed as sponsors.
"If you look at the IOC charter, they have put in seven fundamental principles of Olympics, and first says respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.
"They have (IOC) six fields of activities and one of them is sports and environment. So they are linking with a company which has a track record and which is a successor company of Union carbide and I don`t think ethically they can claim to sponsor an event," Maken said.
When pointed out that a settlement on the dispute was done in the Supreme Court and the Indian government had agreed to that, Maken refused to change his stand.
"It`s the moral responsibility. I am not going into the legal side. When they call about the ethics, the morality, is it not for a successor company to pay for all the bad things Union Carbide has done?
"Is it (the case) not before the Supreme Court again? For government it still is a dispute. Why do you go into legal aspect? We are asking the IOC, in the spirit of Olympics they should not tie up with a company which has a history of Union Carbide behind it."
Maken said it does not matter that Dow Chemicals acquired Union Carbide as late as 1999, 15 years after the Bhopal disaster.
"Then what, even now people are suffering in Bhopal, on account of that incident. They are forced to drink water which is contaminated. IOC says Sports and Environment is one area of their activities, how can they ignore it," he asked.