Olympic officials are questioning whether being sponsored by McDonald's and Coca-Cola sends the wrong message to fans of the games. Jacques Rogge has spoken out about the growing problem of obesity and whether corporate sponsorship by the two largest, often most unhealthy, corporations is such a good idea.
"We've said to [Coca-Cola and McDonald's], 'Listen, there is an issue in terms of the growing trend on obesity, what are you going to do about that?'" Rogge told The Financial Times.
McDonald's and Coca-Cola have long sponsored the Olympic games, providing needed sponsorship for the games and advertising for the companies. McDonald's has signed an eight-year extension to its Olympic contract, guaranteeing its sponsorship until 2020. It has been a known supporter since 1928 and stands to gain a considerable amount of income from the London-based games.
Right now the fast-food chain has four restaurants in Olympic Park alone, including its largest site, which is capable of holding 1,500 diners. That means significant flow through its doors during the games, yet making the deal, according to Rogge "was not an easy decision. But then we decided to go and to have the benefit of their support at grassroots levels."
According to the Greater London Authority, Mayor Boris Johnson is working to make inroads in the battle against obesity.
"My perfect 2012 legacy would be a leaner, fitter London and I want us to work swiftly towards the elimination of childhood obesity," Johnson said.
One gigantic step would be severing ties with the fast-food chain and soda company. Surely the Olympics would be a good time to increase awareness about the growing problem of obesity, yet financial straits are causing the Olympic officials to make deals they are not proud of in order to produce the games.
"We have to support and alleviate the needs of … our national Olympic committees [and] international federations," Rogge explained. "Most of the latter are on a lifeline for the Olympic Games and they need financial support."