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India rejects '12 Olympics boycott over Dow Chemical sponsorship

NEW DELHI -- India will resist pressure to boycott the London Olympics over sponsorship by a U.S. company linked to the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy, in which thousands of people died, a top official said on Tuesday.

Indian Olympic Association (IOA) President Vijay Kumar Malhotra told AFP it would not pull out of the Games over the deal with Dow Chemical, which bought Union Carbide, the firm blamed for the lethal gas leak from a pesticide factory.

“The IOA will not boycott the Olympics. Such a thing has not been discussed,” Malhotra said.

However he added that the IOA would “inform the International Olympic Committee of opposition” to Dow Chemical's sponsorship of London 2012.

Shivraj Chauhan, the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh state where Bhopal is located, had urged India to boycott the Games as Dow Chemical bought Union Carbide, the owner of the factory, in 2001.

Dow Chemical, which is sponsoring a fabric shroud to be installed on the Olympic Stadium, says all liabilities over the disaster have been resolved.

The accident killed thousands instantly and tens of thousands more from its lingering effects over the following years, according to official Indian figures.

Malhotra said the company should spend money on survivors instead of sponsoring the Games.

Malhotra holds temporary charge of the IOA because his predecessor Suresh Kalmadi is in jail over corruption charges stemming from last year's Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

London Olympic chief Sebastian Coe has defended the Dow Chemical sponsorship deal but Labour politician Ken Livingstone, who was mayor of London when the city won the right to host the Games, has urged a rethink.

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