NEW DELHI: After IOA failed to convince the International Olympic Committee to drop Dow Chemicals as the London Games' sponsor, a "dismayed" Indian Government has 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 comes 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we are dismayed that the IOC has not respected the sentiments of a large group of stakeholders including Olympians and withdrawn its association with Dow Chemicals," said the letter signed by Rahul Bhatnagar, joint secretary in the Ministry.
The ministry said the IOC should cancel the sponsorship deal for the sake of the ideals of human rights as thousands had lost their lives in the tragedy and several more continue to suffer the after-effects.
"The Government of India would therefore strongly urge the IOC to go beyond lesser considerations and in the larger interest of the ideals of human rights,
compassion and solidarity, immediately take steps to cancel the sponsorship of Dow Chemicals for the London Olympics thereby apart from assuaging the
feelings of millions of people, send a strong message to the world over, for upholding the noble ideals of the Olympic Movement," the Ministry's letter said.
"You are no doubt aware that Dow Chemicals is the successor company of Union Carbide, which was responsible for the unprecedented and large scale
human tragedy which occurred in 1984 in Bhopal.
"For Dow Chemicals to be engaged as an official sponsor for an event like the London Olympics by IOC/LOCOG is extremely distressing, considering the
fact that this company is linked with an event in which thousands of innocent lives were lost and an even larger number of people were incapacitated for life and for whom, even now everyday is a struggle for survival," it added.
The IOC had earlier said that while it appreciated IOA's concern for the victims of tragedy but Dow Chemicals had no ownership stakes in Union Carbide till
The IOC had also said that its relationship with Dow Chemicals was well over 30 years and "we were aware of the Bhopal tragedy when discussing the partnership with Dow".
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.