India mulling partial boycott of London Olympics?

Zeenews Sports Bureau

New Delhi: In protest of London Olympics Organising Committee’s denial to withdraw Dow Chemicals’ partnership, India is considering boycotting the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2012 Games, according to media reports on Wednesday.

Indian contingent is likely to take part only in the events as mark of protest, which IOA say is the least they can do.

However another report, quoting a highly placed source, said no decision has yet been taken on the matter. The source said the Government had written a letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on February 24 and would rather wait for a response before deciding on the future course of action.

"It is a little premature to talk about boycotting the opening and closing ceremonies at this stage. We will have to first wait for an answer from IOC", the source said.

After IOA failed to convince the IOC to drop Dow Chemicals as the London Games' sponsor, the Government had stepped in to ask the IOC to "go beyond lesser considerations" and cancel the deal.

In a letter to IOC President Jacques Rogge, the Sports Ministry has sought Dow's removal as Olympic sponsor. Dow currently owns Union Carbide, the company responsible for the 1984 Bhopal Gas tragedy.

The move came after the IOC refused to entertain pleas by the Indian Olympic Association.

"We cherish and celebrate the noble ideals of the Olympic movement. India stands firmly committed to these ideals and the values they promote of friendship, unity, brotherhood and compassion," the letter stated.

"We strongly believe that there is no better medium than sports to inculcate and foster the feeling of friendship and solidarity among the people of the world. This being so we are dismayed that the IOC has not respected the sentiments of a large group of stakeholders including Olympians and withdrawn its association with Dow Chemicals," said the letter signed by Rahul Bhatnagar, joint secretary in the Ministry.

IOA had repeatedly expressed its opposition to the Dow Chemicals as one of the sponsors for the London Olympics because of its ownership of the infamous Union Carbide which was responsible for the worst industrial disaster in India.

IOA had urged the IOC and London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) to withdraw Dow as Games Sponsors.

In a letter to IOA acting president Vijay Kumar Malhotra, IOC chief Jacques Rogge had said that "IOC recognises that the Bhopal tragedy in 1984 was horrific event for India and the world. The Olympic Movement sympathises with the grief of the victims` families and regrets the ongoing suffering people face in the region."

"The IOC and LOCOG were aware of the Bhopal tragedy when discussing the partnership with Dow. Dow had no connection with the Bhopal tragedy. Dow did not have any ownership stake in Union Carbide until 16 years after the accident and 12 years after the USD 470 million compensation agreement was approved by the Indian Supreme Court," he said.

Meanwhile, UK government defended Dow Chemicals by saying Dow wasn’t operating the plant at the time of Bhopal tragedy. They also urged Indian athletes to participate in the Games.

“Dow didn’t own or operate the plant at the time of tragedy,” UK High Commission said.

UK government justified their stand by saying it was not their decision to hand Dow sponsorship but it was decided by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). “Dow sponsorship was decided by the IOC and the decision was taken with all knowledge of facts,” it said.