Conservative Peer to Lead Coca-Cola Boycott for Beijing Winter Olympics Role | 2022 Winter Olympics
A conservative peer has vowed to carry out a boycott of Coca-Cola products against the company’s sponsorship of the 2022 Beijing Olympics, saying his attempt to profit from an event hosted by the Chinese government was shameless.
Robert Hayward, founding president of the world’s first gay rugby club and former chief of staff at Coca-Cola Bottlers, said it was unacceptable for companies to help promote the use of the Winter Games as a propaganda exercise. given concerns over the treatment of a million Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang province.
Groups such as Human Rights Watch have accused Xi Jinping’s administration of crimes against humanity, growing repression in Hong Kong, increased media control and mass surveillance.
The British parliament passed a motion in April 2021 that genocide was taking place in northwest China, but Beijing has denied any atrocity and accused Western politicians of “lies and disinformation.”
Concern grew more recently when Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai disappeared from public life for nearly three months after accusing a senior Communist Party official of sexual assault.
Hayward said he will not buy any Coca-Cola products, which include brands such as Innocent, Schweppes and Fanta, and that he hopes a large number of people will do the same.
“If they want to take this approach, then they have to understand that there are a lot of people in this world, many of whom are probably Muslims in many countries but others who are of different faiths, who just think there is is unacceptable that they should participate, ”he said.
People have to use their personal judgment as to whether to buy a product or a service, but “there comes a time… when you want to say ‘no, this is just unacceptable’,” he said.
“This is a propaganda event and I will not accept it when so many people are currently suffering and losing their freedom.”
Hayward said he was specifically taking a stand against Coca-Cola because it was “dependent on a good public image” to sell its products, although he also expressed concern about Proctor & Gamble, another main sponsor.
He said it was unacceptable for companies “to attempt to be congratulated on a world sporting event hosted by the Chinese government” given that it “has” been shown in recent months to persecute Uyghurs in an extreme measure “.
“I hope this sends a message to all the big state-owned companies that there is an upside and downside to partnering with major sporting events,” he said, adding that he would raise the issue soon. question in the House of Lords.
Drawing on his experience as the former managing director of the British Soft Drinks Association, Hayward said Coca-Cola should have had a “force majeure” clause in its sponsorship contract with the Olympic organizers that he could. activate if necessary, allowing it to withdraw on China stocks.
By refusing to buy the products over the next few months, individuals could send a message in a way that is far better than “the knee-jerk reaction to say that athletes should boycott the Olympics,” he said. .
A spokesperson for the International Olympic Committee said the sponsors “provide valuable financial resources that support the development of sport at all levels around the world”, helping it to redistribute the equivalent of around 3.4 million dollars. dollars (£ 2.5million) per day to athletes and sports organizations. at all levels.
They said sponsors played no role in selecting the host nation for each Games.
Coca-Cola did not respond to a request for comment, but the company said on its website that it was “the longest-running continuing sponsor” of the Summer and Winter Olympics.
“We believe that the Olympic movement is a force for good, bringing people and countries together, and we are proud to use our name to raise its profile and support the world’s most watched and revered international sporting event. “, did he declare.