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* Boycotting London not a consideration, says IOA chief
* Former athletes want London to reconsider Dow deal
By Amlan Chakraborty
NEW DELHI, Nov 28 An Olympic boycott will
not be on the agenda when the Indian Olympic Association meets
next week, despite continuing outrage over Dow Chemical's
high-profile sponsorship of the London 2012 Games, the IOA's
acting president told Reuters on Monday.
Many victims and activists now hold Dow responsible for
compensating victims of a gas leak disaster which killed
thousands in 1984 and injured hundreds of thousands more.
At the time of the Bhopal disaster in the Indian state of
Madhya Pradesh, the pesticide plant was owned by Union Carbide,
and that company settled its liabilities with the Indian
government in 1989 by paying $470 million for Bhopal victims.
Dow bought Union Carbide a decade after the company had
settled with the Indian government and now finds itself in the
firing line for its sponsorship of a temporary decorative wrap
over London's Olympic Stadium.
The sponsorship has caused anger across India, but nowhere
more so than Madhya Pradesh, where chief minister Shivraj Singh
Chauhan is urging the Indian government to boycott the sporting
Chauhan says that instead of sponsoring the Games, the
company should spend that money on Bhopal survivors.
IOA acting president Vijay Kumar Malhotra attempted to cool
the row on Monday, telling Reuters: "We are meeting next week
but it's not about boycotting the Games.
"Some people have raised a concern about the sponsorship
issue and we will discuss that, along with some other issues,"
"Some former Olympians are upset with the sponsorship deal
and would like them (London Organising Committee of the Olympic
Games) to reconsider it," Malhotra, a leader of India's main
opposition party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), added.
A group of former and current Indian Olympians organised a
petition calling for athletes not to travel to London, British
media reported last week.
Though India are not expected to dominate the medals table,
the absence of the world's second most populous nation, and one
of its fastest growing economies, would be a major blow to the
The Indian government last year demanded more than $1
billion additional compensation for the victims of the gas leak.
In the early hours of Dec. 3, 1984, around 40 metric tonnes
of toxic methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas leaked into the atmosphere
and was carried by the wind to the surrounding slums.
Activists say 25,000 people died in the immediate aftermath
of the accident and in ensuing years, and about 100,000 people
who were exposed to the gas continue to suffer today from
ailments that range from cancer, blindness to birth defects.
Every year, victims and their families stage demonstrations
and Madhya Pradesh minister Chauhan led protests last week with
a letter to Sports Minister Ajay Maken, requesting him to
boycott the Games.
"Liabilities related to the disaster have not been fully
settled and are a subject of litigation to which the Indian
government is a party," Chauhan wrote.
(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty. Editing by Patrick
Johnston/Editing by Peter Rutherford. To query or comment on
this story email firstname.lastname@example.org)
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