The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has reiterated its stand on Dow Chemical's sponsorship of the Olympic Games and its continuing association with the company.
According to PTI, the IOC in its reply to a letter sent to the IOC President, Jacques Rogge, by the Union Sports Ministry, stated that Dow did not have ownership stake in Union Carbide until 16 years after the Bhopal gas tragedy and 12 years after the compensation agreement was approved by the Supreme Court.
The ministry had sent a letter signed by its Joint Secretary, Rahul Bhatnagar, on February 24 last, urging the IOC to cancel the sponsorship of Dow Chemical of the London Games in the “larger interest of the ideals of human rights, compassion and solidarity…”
In its reply, addressed to Mr. Bhatnagar, the IOC's Director, NOC Relations, Pere Miro, has once again stated the IOC's stand on the issue.
In a near-replica of the letter Mr. Rogge had sent to the Indian Olympic Association acting president, Vijay Kumar Malhotra, on February 2, Mr. Miro has stated that the IOC and the London Games organising committee (LOCOG) were aware of the Bhopal gas tragedy when discussing the partnership with Dow.
“The IOC has taken on board the opinions raised by different groups you mention in your letter, but let us assure you we only enter into partnership with organisations that we believe work in accordance with the values of the Olympic Movement,” PTI quoted the letter as saying.
The IOC also said that it understood the concern of the government and appreciated the “difficult situation” it faced in the country.
The IOC has acted predictably, leaving the Indian Government to take its stand on the matter.
The IOA had also taken up the issue following protests in India and abroad against Dow's sponsorship of the Games, but has made little headway despite continuing to assert that the IOC should remove Dow as a sponsor.
The IOA on its own has made its stand clear that there would be no boycott of the Games by India.
Yet, the Union Sports Minister, Ajay Maken, has not ruled out such a possibility in case the IOC refused to take Dow off.
The minister told a television channel last Sunday that the government would “think about” the boycott issue when the IOC refused to drop Dow as a sponsor.
He also said, “What athletes say will play a very important role in our decision.”
The IOA wants the government to take a firm, public stand on the boycott issue but cautions the government in talking about selective boycott of opening and closing ceremonies.
Mr. Malhotra has repeatedly stated that despite its letters to the ministry he was not in receipt of a reply.
Dow, apart from being a sponsor of the Olympics, is also a Worldwide Partner of the IOC and part of its funding is routed to National Olympic Committees (NOCs) including India.