POSTED: June 16th 2017

Olympics: Bizarre twist as IOC and McDonald's mutually agree to axe TOP Sponsorship

McDonald's is the largest fast food chain in the world here shown is one of their restaurants in Seoul, South Korea © Bigstock
McDonald's is the largest fast food chain in the world here shown is one of their restaurants in Seoul, South Korea © Bigstock

LAURA WALDEN (USA) / Sports Features Communications

(SFC) The IOC and McDonald's issued a surprise statement today that they have mutually agreed to end their TOP Sponsorship agreement with immediate effect. Months before the PyeongChang 2018 winter Olympics the fast food giant will still be present "McDonald's will continue to be a sponsor of the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 with domestic marketing rights in the Republic of Korea only. The company will deliver its Games-time operations, including restaurants in the Olympic Park and the Olympic Village."

This means there will not be a presence of McDonald's at the Tokyo 2020 or Beijing 2022 Olympic Games. With Los Angeles bidding for 2024 and now the allocation of 2028 likely to go through it is an even more puzzling twist why the American franchise pulled the plug when the Games will probably be coming back to US soil.

McDonald's presence in the MPC at the Games has been a buzzing hot spot and the go to place for McCafe coffee keeping the media up and running 24/7 as they follow the Games. Local organizers serve coffee as well but McDonald's offered a classic version of their brew and specialty lattes and cappucinos. However they were missed in Rio at last summer's Olympics. 

The IOC has worldwide TOP Partner agreements through to 2020, with Bridgestone, Panasonic and Toyota through to 2024, Alibaba through to 2028, and Omega through to 2032.

Timo Lumme, Managing Director of IOC Television and Marketing Services, said in the statement, "The IOC's sponsorship strategy is aimed at delivering long-term partnerships that help the Olympic Movement achieve the objectives set out in Olympic Agenda 2020, our strategic roadmap for the future. This strategy is exemplified by the recent announcement of long-term, ground-breaking agreements with new and existing global Partners. In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, we understand that McDonald's is looking to focus on different business priorities. For these reasons, we have mutually agreed with McDonald's to part ways. I would like to thank our friends at McDonald's on behalf of the IOC for the commitment the company has shown to the Olympic Movement over many decades."

McDonald's Global Chief Marketing Officer Silvia Lagnado said, "As part of our global growth plan, we are reconsidering all aspects of our business and have made this decision in cooperation with the IOC to focus on different priorities. We have been proud to support the Olympic Movement, and we thank our customers and staff, the spectators, athletes and officials, as well as the IOC and local Olympics Games organizing committees, for all of their support over the years."

The financial terms of the severance agreement were not outlined in the statement and at the moment the IOC has no plans to replace the retail food operations category sponsor.

The IOC has an Olympic Solidarity plant that redistributes more than 90 per cent of its income to the wider sporting movement so every day the equivalent of USD 3.25 million goes to help athletes and sports organisations at all levels around the world.

**LAURA WALDEN has over twenty-six years of experience in the Olympic Movement, formerly at the European Olympic Committees with SportEurope under former IOC President Dr. Jacques Rogge and IOC Member Mario Pescante. She worked with the Rome 2004 and Turin 2006 Olympic bids and also managed PR & media for Dr. Jacques Rogge during his campaign for the presidency.

Keywords · Olympics · IOC · McDonald's

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