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India Could Boycott the 2012 Olympics in London

Translated Sunday 1 January 2012, by Nicole Hawkesford and reviewed by Bill Scoble

India is seriously considering whether or not to send athletes to the next Olympic Games in London in 2012 since Dow Chemical, a company linked to the Bhopal tragedy, has become one of the official sponsors for the Games.

Image: The victims of the Bhopal disaster, more than 25 years later.

The decision lies with the Indian government, explained the head of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on Friday. Vijay Kumar Malhotra, president of the IOA, stated that his organisation could only submit a complaint to the organising committee in London, but could not take the decision to boycott the Games. This was decided "unanimously" during a meeting on Friday in New Delhi.
"We did not discuss the matter of a boycott" announced the committee leader. "This is a matter for the government to decide. We will write to the government to explain that it is a delicate matter, and that they must tell us how to proceed."

Complaint submitted to IOC

"We will see how the London organising committee and the International Olympic Committee react after our complaint. They could change sponsors, if they wanted to. We hope that common sense will prevail and that Dow Chemical will be withdrawn from the list of sponsors," said Mr. Malhotra. He added that some members of the IOA had suggested that India should organise protest marches in London and that athletes should wear a black armband as a sign of protest. But, he emphasised that "these are personal opinions".

For Dow Chemical, the slate has been wiped clean.

The company is sponsoring a wrap to be installed around the main olympic stadium in London. The American company took over the Bhopal factory in 1999, fifteen years after the worst industrial disaster in the world, which caused tens of thousands of deaths in the town in central India after a cloud of toxic gas escaped from the pesticide factory operated by the American company Union Carbide, part of the Dow group.

Dow Chemical now considers themselves absolved, since the 1989 agreement with the Indian government in which the company paid 470 million dollars (around 362 million euros) of compensation, with withdrawal of the lawsuits against them.

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