By Tom Degun

Andrew Leveris_by_Olympic_ringsMarch 1 - Andrew Liveris (pictured), the chairman and chief executive of Dow Chemical, has claimed that the huge opposition in India to his organisation's sponsorship of the Olympic Games is "beyond belief" given that the company was not involved in with the infamous Bhopal disaster in 1984 that is the source of the issue.

Dow, one of 11 worldwide Olympic partners, has come under increasing pressure over their Olympic sponsorship due to the fact that the company bought United States chemical firm Union Carbide, whose Bhopal plant in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh leaked toxic gases in 1984, killing thousands of people in one of the worst ever industrial accidents.

Following the Bhopal disaster, Union Carbide settled its liabilities with the Indian Government in 1989 by paying $470 million (£310 million/€351 million) for Bhopal victims and, even though Dow bought Union Carbide a decade after the compensation deal, the company have been heavily criticised for their Olympic sponsorship.

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) have asked the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to drop Dow Chemical as a sponsor but Liveris, who helped transform the company into one of the world's biggest chemical manufacturers, admits he is shocked by the protests.

"It was not us," the 57-year-old from Australia told Bloomberg in an interview.

"The fact that you can speak back with science and fact rather than emotion and hysteria is your only defence.

"We are on the ground there [in India] describing to everyone that will listen to us, including the newspapers, what our involvement is with the Olympics and what our involvement wasn't with Bhopal.

"To keep coming back to the notion that you acquire a company where there is a bright line on the liability that was settled way beyond your time, and to hook you into that event, it's beyond belief that people are still trying that.

"The obvious reason people are trying that is because we are a healthy company with deep pockets that people want a second bite of the cherry on.

"I keep saying, 'Please go to India, please talk to the Government of India and please work it out with them'.

"We are very proud to be associated [with the Olympics] and for that matter, the IOC is very proud to have us."

Dow Chemical_protests_in_India_February_2012Speculation continues to mount that India will boycott London 2012 over the issue and a letter has recently been sent to IOC President Jacques Rogge from the Indian Sports Ministry reiterating their disapproval at the sponsorship of Dow.

"We cherish and celebrate the noble ideals of the Olympic Movement," said the letter, which is signed by the joint secretary of the Indian Sports Ministry Rahul Bhatnagar.

"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, by not withdrawing its association with Dow Chemicals."

But, the IOA secretary general Randhir Singh has promised that despite the issue, neither the IOA nor the Indian athletes would boycott the event.

"There is no question of opting out of the Olympics," said Singh, who is also a membver of the IOC.

"We don't want to ruin the careers of the players."

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