For its link to the 1984 Union Carbide Bhopal gas tragedy

A group of British MPs, backed by rights activists and a number of former Olympians, have asked the London Olympics 2012 Organisers (Locog) to scrap a £7 million sponsorship deal with Dow Chemical Company because of its link to the 1984 Union Carbide Bhopal gas tragedy or face a possible boycott by Indian athletes.

They alleged the company had “blood on its hands.”

This follows protests that Dow, which bought Union Carbide in 2001, owes compensation to the victims of the gas tragedy.

According toThe Guardian, 24 MPs have written to Locog chairman Lord Sebastian Coe urging him to abandon the deal under which Dow is to sponsor a fabric wrap that will surround the Olympic stadium in East London.

Shadow Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell, though not a signatory to the letter, said the deal posed a “reputational risk” to the Games and the organisers must explain the rationale behind the decision to give the contract to Dow.

Senior Labour MP Barry Gardiner, leading the campaign, accused Dow of evading its responsibilities to the victims of the gas tragedy which killed up to 20,000 people.

“I don't want to see the Games in London tarnished by a company that has blood on its hands and refused to face up to its liabilities,” he said as campaigners claimed that the organisers were “stonewalling” inquiries.

In a statement, Dow said: “The 1984 Union Carbide Bhopal incident was a terrible tragedy that none of us in the industry will ever forget. However, it is disappointing that some people are trying to assign blame and responsibility to Dow.” Lord Coe defended the decision and denied the threat of a boycott by Indian athletes. He told Parliament's Culture, Media and Sport select committee that he had met concerned MPs, including Keith Vaz, one of the Labour MPs who signed the letter.

The decision to award the contract to Dow was taken after “very carefully” considering all the issues.

More In: National | News