The US fast-food giant McDonald’s has ended its 41-year sponsorship with the International Olympic Committee, pulling out of its contract three years early.
McDonald’s, a sponsor since 1976, contributes more than $1bn in every four-year cycle for the Games and had a contract running to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Timo Lumme, the managing director of IOC Television and Marketing Services, said: “In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, we understand McDonald’s is looking to focus on different business priorities. For these reasons, we have mutually agreed with McDonald’s to part ways.”
While it is unusual for an Olympic sponsor to leave early, sponsors change regularly within the IOC’s top programme. The most recent addition was China’s Alibaba Group Holding, which signed a deal in January for a partnership to 2028.
Silvia Lagnado, the McDonald’s global chief marketing officer, 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.”
McDonald’s has been bringing down costs as it invests in improving its food quality, restaurant service and online ordering to try to attract customers in the US, where intense competition has affected sales.
The firm, first involved with the Games in 1968, was the event’s foods retail sponsor. Despite pulling out with immediate effect, McDonald’s will continue at next year’s Pyeongchang winter Olympics as sponsors with domestic marketing rights.
In the runup to Rio 2016, the Children’s Food Campaign said the Olympics was “a carnival of junk food marketing”. The IOC said it was not planning a direct replacement for McDonald’s.
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