True, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) is set to ask the authorities of the 2012 London Olympics and the International Olympics Committee (IOC) to cancel the involvement of Dow Chemicals as a sponsor of the sporting extravaganza. Even so, members of the 1927-formed association disclose that the issue is not part of its agenda for a two-day executive board and general body meeting starting December 15.
America’s Dow Chemicals had — in 1999 — bought Union Carbide, the company allegedly responsible for the 1984 Bhopal gas leak that killed 25,000 people, according to some estimates.
Senior IOA members, who are also part of the executive board, believe sports should be kept out of politics. They note that several athletes have for the past four years been preparing for the mega event. Also, the government had already taken up the issue at the international level.
The issue of Dow Chemicals being a sponsor for the Olympic Games in London in 2012 does not even form a part of the agenda for the upcoming December 15-16 executive board and general body meeting, according to C P Singh Deo, who is part of the executive board.
“The government is already dealing with the issue at its own level. Why would the authorities in London listen to us? It is not a small event, contracts have been signed, why would they be dictated by us?” asked Deo, who is also president of the Rowing Federation of India.
IOA acting president V K Malhotra said there was no discussion on the boycott of Olympic Games over the issue. “We have decided to take up the issue with the London Olympics and IOC. We will ask them to cancel the involvement of Dow Chemicals from the Games,” he told Business Standard. A number of NGOs and Olympians had raised the issue with IOA, he added.
Some of the IOA members suggested that issue was “completely out of focus”. The event is for the athletes and not for administrators to discuss, IOA vice-president Paresh Nath Mukherjee said. The association should first boycott the US economically and politically before boycotting the Games, Mukherjee said. “We should not dictate terms to authorities in London,” he added.
Taking note of the developments, the sports ministry has written a letter to Malhotra, advising him to take up the issue with IOC and keep the government posted about the conversations between the two sides.
|100 YEARS OF OLYMPIC MARKETING
India has issues with Dow Chemical's sponsorship of London Olympics, 2012. Dow bought Union Carbide, the company responsible for the Bhopal gas disaster. The Olympics have been boycotted in the past mostly over political issues such as apartheid or the Cold War, but never over a sponsorship issue.
|A HISTORY OF OLYMPIC SPONSORSHIP|
|Athens 1896: Firms provide revenue through advertising|
|Stockholm 1912: 10 Swedish cos purchase rights to take photos, sell memorabilia|
|Paris 1924: Advertising signage within view of the games, the only time this is allowed|
|Amsterdam 1928: Coca-Cola becomes a long-standing Olympic sponsor|
|Helsinki 1952: Firms from 11 countries contribute food for athletes, flowers|
|Tokyo 1964: 250 firms develop marketing relationships with the Games, ‘Olympia' cigarette brand generates $1 bn in revenue for the Games (tobacco advertising later banned), Seiko creates accurate timing system|
|Montreal 1976 : 628 sponsors, Domestic sponsors generate $7 mn for the Games|
|Los Angeles 1984: Sponsorship limited to host country and US firms|
|Calgary / Seoul 1988: IOC Creates The Olympic Partners (TOP) programme , based on exclusivity of product category|
|Atlanta 1996: Funded entirely by private sources|
|London 2012: TOPs include Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Dow Chemical, among others|
|Source: olympic.org, official website of the Olympic movement|
Late last month, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had written a letter to Union sports minister Ajay Maken, saying India must boycott the Games if Dow Chemicals continued to be a sponsor in the upcoming Olympics. Several non-government organisations and Olympians, too, have made an identical request to the government.
The government today said it has granted Maharatna status to Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd and Gas Authority of India Ltd.