The top International Olympic Committee (IOC) official has questioned whether high-calorie brands such as McDonald's and Coca-Cola should be allowed to continue sponsoring the Olympic Games amid mounting concern about the global obesity crisis.
IOC chief Jacques Rogge told the Financial Times that the growing financial demands of the Olympics were making it harder for the movement to hold on to its long-cherished values – which include taking care of one's health. It has faced increasing criticism from health groups for linking the games to high-calorie consumer brands.
McDonald's has four restaurants in London's Olympic Park, including its biggest in the world, which seats 1,500 customers. The fast-food chain extended its 36-year backing of the Olympics in January by signing up as sponsor for another eight years. Coca-Cola, a sponsor of the Olympics since 1928, also signed up until 2020.
There is a "question mark" over the sponsorship of the Olympics by the two companies. "We have 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.
The IOC derives much of its income from broadcasting rights – 3.9 billion U.S. dollars, or 24.8 billion yuan, in the four years up to and including the London Olympics. In that period, it has also received 957 million U.S. dollars from its 11 global sponsors, which is important to the survival of Olympic committees and participating teams.
Deciding to renew McDonald's sponsorship deal "was not an easy decision," Rogge said. "But then we decided to go and to have the benefit of their support at grassroots levels."
Rogge pointed to the introduction by McDonald's of healthier menu options and Coca-Cola's zero-calorie drinks as evidence of the companies' taking their public health responsibilities seriously.
Read the Chinese version: 麦当劳与可口可乐被指易肥胖 奥运赞助商地位遭质疑