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No decision on boycotting Olympics ceremony: Sports Ministry

Press Trust of India
Feb 29, 2012 at 11:57pm IST

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New Delhi: No decision has yet been taken on India boycotting the Opening and Closing ceremonies of the London Olympic Games as a mark of protest against Dow Chemicals association with the mega event, a highly placed official source said on Wednesday.

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.

No decision on boycotting Olympics: Sports Min

The Sports Ministry said the IOC should cancel the Dow sponsorship deal for the sake of the ideals of human rights.

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we are dismayed that the IOC has not respected the sentiments of a large group of stakeholders including Olympians and withdrawn its association with Dow Chemicals," said the letter signed by Rahul Bhatnagar, joint secretary in the Ministry.

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 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 2000.

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".

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

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