The Government of India has asked the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to drop Dow Chemicals as sponsor of the 2012 London Games as the company is linked to the 1984 Bhopal Gas tragedy.
This move of the Indian Government comes after repeated letters of protest by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) failed to move the IOC.
The Union Sports Ministry has sent a 'strongly-worded letter' to the IOC seeking the removal of Dow Chemicals' sponsorship of this year's London Games.
"You are no doubt aware that Dow Chemicals is the successor company of Union Carbide, which was responsible for the unprecedented and large scale human tragedy which occurred in 1984 in Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh). For Dow Chemicals to be engaged as an official sponsor for an event like the London Olympics 2012 by IOC/LOCOG is extremely distressing, considering the fact that this company is linked with an event in which thousands of innocent lives were lost and an even large number of people were incapacitated for life and for whom even now, everyday is a struggle for survival," the Union Sports Ministry has written in its letter.
"We cherish and elaborate the noble ideas of the Olympic Movement. India stands firmly committed to those ideals and the values they promote of friendship, unity, brotherhood and compassion. We strongly believe that there is no better medium than sports to inculcate and foster the feelings of friendship and solidarity among the people of the world. This being so, we are dismayed that the IOC has not respected the sentiments of a large group of stakeholders including Olympians and withdrawn its association with Dow Chemicals," the letter adds.
The IOA had earlier urged the Central Government to protest Dow Chemicals' sponsorship of the London Olympics.
Acting President of the IOA, Vijay Kumar Malhotra, had earlier in the day said he had written to the government after it came to light that the U.S. firm had sponsored a function organised by the Agriculture Ministry.
"A few days back it was telecast on television that Dow Chemicals has sponsored some function of the Agriculture Ministry. We have asked them if they could sponsor in India, then it becomes difficult for us to tell the London Olympics to boycott it," Malhotra told the media here.
"We are protesting very strongly. But our protest is weakened if the Indian Government does not take action against it," he added.
The Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs had earlier last year written to the Indian Olympic Association regarding the controversy surrounding sponsorship of the London Olympics by Dow Chemicals, a firm that is being blamed for the December 3, 1984 Bhopal Gas tragedy.
The Sports Ministry had asked the IOA to raise the Dow issue with International Olympic Committee, as in India there is strong public sentiment against Dow being the sponsor of an international sporting event.
In the early hours of December 3, 1984, around 40 metric tonnes of toxic methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas leaked into the atmosphere from the plant of Union Carbide and the breeze carried the lethal gas to the surrounding slums.
The government says around 3,500 died because of the disaster. Activists, however, calculate that 25,000 people died in the immediate aftermath and the years that followed. (ANI)