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Indian government mulls boycott of opening and closing ceremonies of 2012 Games

Even as Mayor Boris Johnson has also called upon the Indian communities to get involved in volunteering during the London 2012 Games, the Indian government back home is mulling a boycott of the opening and closing ceremonies.

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Protesting against the sponsorship of the stadium wrap by Dow Chemical, the Indian government has already shot off a communication to the International Olympic Committee. The government has asking for dropping the sponsorship because of the company’s links with the Bhopal gas leak, 28 years ago.

Reports from India suggest the government was at the brink of staying away from not just the inaugural and valedictory ceremonies, but other official events related to the Games.

Only last month, the survivors of the 1984 Bhopal disaster protested in Bhopal against the involvement of Dow Chemical in the Olympics. Dow is believed to have ongoing liabilities relating to the 1984 Bhopal disaster.

The issue of Dow being involved in the Games has rather gained momentum in the Bhopal region, where Union Carbide gas leak in 1984 officially killed 3,787 people. It intensified after Wikileaks produced emails showing the company had hired the private intelligence company Stratfor to monitor Bhopal protest groups.

Chief executive of Dow Chemical Andrew Liveris, on the other hand, says the ongoing protests over his company’s sponsorship of the London 2012 Olympics are “beyond belief”. Liveris has, in fact, been claiming Dow Chemical wasn’t involved in the Bhopal disaster.

The letter from the Indian sports ministry stated: “We cherish and celebrate the noble ideals of the Olympic movement. India stands firmly committed to these 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 feeling 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we are dismayed that the IOC has not respected the sentiments of a large group of stakeholders including Olympians and withdrawn its association with Dow Chemicals.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 has been signed by Rahul Bhatnagar, the joint secretary in the ministry.

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