The Union Sports Ministry has written to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), urging it to cancel the sponsorship of Dow Chemical for the London Olympics.

In a letter, dated February 24, to IOC president Jacques Rogge, the Ministry's joint secretary Rahul Bhatnagar said that such a step by the IOC would assuage the “feelings of millions of people” and send a strong message the world over for upholding the noble ideals of the Olympic Movement.

The Ministry had asked the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) earlier to convey India's protest over the IOC and the London Games being associated with a company which is the successor of Union Carbide, which in turn was held responsible for the unprecedented gas tragedy that occurred in Bhopal in 1984.

IOC's reply

Mr. Rogge, replying to a letter by IOA president Vijay Kumar Malhotra, said the IOC sympathised with the IOA. He pointed out at the same time that the sponsorship deal with Dow was finalised when the IOC and the Games Organising Committee (LOCOG) were aware of the Bhopal tragedy.

The IOC contended that Dow did not have any connection with the gas tragedy while it had supported the Olympic Movement for over 30 years.

Dow is a Worldwide Olympic Partner since 2010 and part of its funding goes to the National Olympic Committees (NOCs), including the IOA. The IOA has not accepted the IOC's stand, but wants the government to come out with a clear statement regarding India's participation, or otherwise, in the Olympics. It would be willing to follow any government directive regarding this.

“We are not talking of a boycott,” said Mr. Malhotra on Monday. “We will decide on the mode of protest after consultations with the government.”

He said the IOA Executive Board meeting here on March 2 would take a decision.