New Delhi: Reaffirming its stand, the International Olympic Committee today rejected calls from the Indian Government to drop Dow Chemical as sponsor of the London Games because of its links to the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy.
In a letter addressed to Rahul Bhatnagar, joint secretary in the Sports Ministry, the IOC said that while it appreciated Government`s concern for the victims of tragedy, Dow Chemicals neither owned or operated the plant at the time of the Bhopal gas leak disaster.
The letter was written by Pere Miro, Director, NOC Relations, IOC in response to a communication sent by Bhatnagar on February 24 to the IOC President Jacques Rogge, seeking Dow`s removal as Olympic sponsor.
"I am writing to you in reference to your letter dated February 24, 2012 concerning the IOC`s and LOCOG`s partnerships with Dow. The IOC recognises that the Bhopal tragedy in 1984 was a 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 letter said.
"The IOC has taken on board the opinions raised by different groups you mention in your letter, but let us assure you we only enter into partnerships with organisations that we believe work in accordance with the values of the Olympic Movement.”
"Dow is a global leader in its field of business and is committed to good corporate citizenship. We thank you for your letter, understand your concerns and appreciate the difficult situation you are facing in your country," the letter added.
Miro further wrote that the IOC and LOCOG were aware of the Bhopal tragedy when discussing the partnership with Dow.
"The 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. The court has upheld that agreement twice since then, in 1991 and 2007.
We understand that this is being reviewed yet a third time by the Indian Supreme Court, and are aware of Dow's position in this matter, and of the sensitivities of all
parties," the letter said.
Dow currently owns Union Carbide, the company responsible for the 1984 Bhopal Gas tragedy.
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.
The move came after the IOC refused to entertain pleas by the Indian Olympic Association.
Sports Minister Ajay Maken, in a recent interview to a news channel, had said that 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.
In response to his statement, the IOA had accused the government for adopting double standards on Dow Chemicals' sponsorship issue and said the Sport Ministry's plans of selective boycott of the London Olympics will have "serious repercussions".