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India protests against Dow sponsorship of Londin Olympics

Written By Krishna on Monday, December 05, 2011 | 5:37 AM

Indian Sports Ministry on December 5 asked the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to raise the issue with the International Olympic Committee to raise the issue of the London Olympic Games’ sponsorship deal with Dow Chemicals. Dow is the official worldwide Olympic partner up to 2020 Games and as part of their agreement with the IOC. They will also partner the India's National Olympic Committee and s around the world, including India.

Dow Chemical Company.-a U.S.based multinational corporation, acquired Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) in 2001 which had a pesticide plant in Bhopal from US based UCC. Dow Chemicals signed an agreement with the IOC in July 2010 to sponsor $ 7 billion for the Games. This company refuses to pay for its liabilities of Bhopal gas tragedy that it inherited from UCC. In 1989 $ 470 million (originally equivalent to Rs 710 crore) was paid to the government of India by the UCC for 3,000 deaths, the death toll has climbed to 15,310 by October 2003, as determined by the Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation Department. The number of dead and those suffering from permanent disability and diseases continues to rise with no relief in sight.

Prior to Sports Minister's letter, the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, Shivaraj Singh Chauhan, joined hands with protesters and wrote to Union Sports Minister Ajay Maken, demanding that India boycott the Olympics if Dow continues to be a sponsor. The chief minister also said that instead of sponsoring the Games, the company could spend that money on Bhopal survivors.

“They have not met their liabilities and hence, such a company should not be allowed to be associated with the most prestigious sporting event of the world,” Chauhan said in his letter.

Union Sports Minister Ajay Maken wrote a letter to IOA, expressing his concern over the Dow issue that has been vehemently criticized by the Bhopal Gas leak victims and even by several former Olympians.

“Strong public sentiment exists in this matter and a number of ex-Olympians have raised the issue,” read a statement from the ministry. In a letter addressed to the organizing committee, 21 Indian athletes have urged the authorities to cancel Dow’s sponsorship of a fabric wrap around the Olympic stadium in London.

Protests against Dow Chemical’s sponsorship of the Olympics have continued with thousands of demonstrations again taking to the streets a day after effigies of Sebastian Coe, the chairman of London 2012, and Vijay Kumar Malhotra, head of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), were burnt in the streets.

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