November 28 - India will not boycott the London 2012 Olympics over Dow Chemical's sponsorship of the Games,  the acting President of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) Vijay Kumar Malhotra (pictured) has promised.

Dow are one of 11 worldwide Olympic Partners and speculation has been growing that India will pull out of London 2012 due to the fact that Dow bought US chemical firm Union Carbide whose Bhopal plant in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh leaked toxic gases in 1984, killing thousands of people in the world's worst industrial accident.

Following the Bhopal disaster, Union Carbide settled its liabilities with the Indian Government in 1989 by paying $470 million (£310 million/€351 million) for Bhopal victims and even though Dow bought Union Carbide a decade after the compensation deal, the company has been put in the firing line for its sponsorship of a temporary £7 million (£11 million/€8 million) wrap that will encase the London 2012 Olympic Stadium in Stratford.

But Malhotra, the IOA senior vice-president who is acting President as Suresh Kalmadi was arrested earlier this year due to alleged corruption in awarding contracts for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, said that there is no planned boycott from the team, as had been reported in some British newspapers.

"We are meeting next week but it's not about boycotting the Games," said Malhotra told Reuters.

"Some people have raised a concern about the sponsorship issue and we will discuss that, along with some other issues.

"Some former Olympians are upset with the sponsorship deal and would like them [London 2012] to reconsider it."

The Indian Government is still pursuing an additional $1.1 billion (£707 million/€822 million) from Dow for victims despite the settlement from Union Carbide

Around 3,000 people died in the initial disaster, but a further 15,000 have since died from poisoning.

Dow's Olympic sponsorship has caused anger across particularly in Madhya Pradesh where senior figures, including chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, stating that instead of sponsoring the Games, the company should spend the money on Bhopal survivors.

But both the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and London 2012 have backed Dow, who has been a supporter of the Olympic Movement for more than 30 years.

The IOC said they recognised the Bhopal gas disaster was a tragic event and they have been briefed on the history of the incident.

"The IOC understands that Dow never owned or operated the facility in Bhopal, and that the State Government of Madhya Pradesh owns and controls the former plant site," said an IOC statement.

London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe has also backed Dow.

"I am satisfied that the ownership, operation and the involvement either at the time of the disaster or at the final settlement was not the responsibility of Dow," said Coe, who has Indian blood due to his mother.

Dow has also expressed their disappointment that they have suddenly come under fire for an incident that they were not responsible for.

"It is disappointing and misguided that some people are trying to assign blame and responsibility to Dow," said a Dow spokesperson.

"Dow acquired the shares of Union Carbide Corporation more than 16 years after the tragedy, and 10 years after the settlement agreement – paid by Union Carbide Corporation and Union Carbide India, Limited – was approved by the Indian Supreme Court.

By Tom Degun

Source: www.insidethegames.biz


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