New Delhi: Clarifying that the government has not asked athletes to boycott the London Olympics over the Dow Chemicals sponsorship, Sports Minister Ajay Maken on Thursday said that the matter has been pursued at a diplomatic level with the host nation.
"India has not asked its athletes to boycott the London Olympics over Dow Chemicals sponsorship," Maken said in response to a question by NK Singh in the Rajya Sabha.
"The matter had also been taken up through diplomatic channel with Government of UK," the Minister added.
While the UK government has taken the position that the sponsorship by Dow was an arrangement between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Dow Chemicals Company, the world governing body as well as the London Organising Committee have indicated their inability to drop Dow as a sponsor of the upcoming Games.
Maken said the matter will be pursued widely through the countries' Missions in other parts of the world, which are members of the IOC.
"In view of the response (by the UK govt) so far, it has been agreed that the matter should continue to be taken up to create a wider awareness about strong and legitimate view on this issue widely through our Missions in countries which are members of the IOC to the host Government(s) as well as the Olympic Association of the host country," said Maken.
He also said that the move would help in raising the diplomatic awareness on this subject and create a wider understanding of our position.
"It would serve to remind the rest of the world that the tragedy of Bhopal lingers on and evokes deep public sympathy in the country for the innocent victims," the minister said.
Maken said that the government will continue to increase awareness amongst other Olympic nations about the justified grievance on this issue and reiterate support to the strong public sensitivities.
He also stated that earlier the government had advised the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to take up the issue of sponsorship of London Olympics by Dow Chemicals emphatically with the IOC to draw its attention to the sensitivities of the victims of Bhopal Gas tragedy in 1984.
"It was pointed out to IOA that the association of IOC with Dow Chemicals militates against the fundamental ethical principles represented by the Olympic movement," the minister informed the house.
IOA took up the matter with IOC and London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) conveying India's concerns on this sensitive issue and asking them to re-consider the decision about the sponsorship by Dow Chemicals for London Olympics.
"In response to IOA's taking up the matter with IOC, the latter replied stating that Dow Chemicals had no connection with the Bhopal tragedy since Dow Chemicals 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 Supreme Court.
"The ministry also took up the matter directly with IOC urging it to go beyond lesser considerations, and in the larger interests of the ideals of human rights, compassion and solidarity, cancel the sponsorship of Dow Chemicals for the 2012 Games, thereby apart from assuaging the feelings of millions of people, send a strong message the world over, for upholding the noble ideals of the Olympic Movement," the minister added.