Olympic Chief: McDonald’s, Coke Sponsorships Questioned

Monday, 09 Jul 2012 12:01 PM

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Top Olympics officials questioned renewing the Olympic sponsorship of both McDonald’s and Coca Cola out of concern that their products are unhealthy, says International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge of Belgium.

The Olympic movement is feeling some tension between upholding values like an emphasis on health and the financial necessity of attracting a wide group of sponsors, he told the Financial Times.

There was a “question mark” over the sponsorship by McDonald’s and Coke, Rogge said. McDonald’s has sponsored the games for 36 years and signed up in January for another eight. Coke has been an Olympic sponsor since 1928 and also is on board through 2020.

McDonald’s has four restaurants in London’s Olympic Park, including its biggest in the world, which can accommodate 1,500 diners.

“For those companies, we’ve said to them: ‘listen, there is an issue in terms of the growing trend on obesity, what are you going to do about that?’” Rogge said. He said the companies have shown a commitment to move on the issue, with McDonald’s introducing healthier menu choices and Coke offering zero-calorie beverages.

The decision to renew with McDonald’s “wasn’t easy,” Rogge said. “But then we decided to go and to have the benefit of their support at grassroots levels.”

The IOC garners much of its revenue from broadcasting rights — $3.9 billion in the four years through the London Olympics. But during that time, it also has taken in $957 million from its 11 global sponsors.

More than 90 percent of that money ends up going to national Olympic committees, international federations, and host city organizers.


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