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Asahi pulls Pilsner Urquell sponsorship from the Olympics

Asahi has withdrawn its Pilsner Urquell sponsorship from next year’s Olympic Games in Paris due to the event allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete.

According to Radio Prague International, Pilsner Urquell, which is the official partner of the Czech Olympic Committee, will henceforth withdraw from all communications and sponsorship material related to the 2024 Olympics. A decision which was reportedly due to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) choosing to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in the sporting event.

Removing its support and showing its displeasure at the IOC’s decision amidst the Russia-Ukraine war, Asahi released a statement entitled “Pilsner Urquell does not want to support the Olympic Games in Paris under current conditions. It will send money to Czech athletes”.

Speaking about the decision, Pilsner Urquell marketing manager Zuzana Dudová said: “Pilsner Urquell has been supporting Czech Olympic athletes for more than 20 years. We have always been doing so in the name of commonly shared values such as fair play, humanism and togetherness, and we were hoping that these values will be reflected in the upcoming Olympic Games as well. Unfortunately, we feel that the International Olympic Committee´s decision is not in line with these principles. The upcoming Olympic Games are becoming political and we do not want to support these games under current conditions. We respect activities of the Czech Olympic Committee to fight for the principles however the IOC decision currently stands.”

Dudová added:“We want to celebrate success of our athletes, but at events that are in line with our values. At the same time, we do not intend to slacken the support we give them and we want to live up to the financial commitment we have made to our athletes. The current contract with the Czech Olympic Committee obliges us to financial performance, and we will fulfil our commitments. However, we have decided not to use the money for the upcoming Olympic Games, but for the support of Czech athletes.”

As tensions escalated between the west and Putin’s Russia, the reaction from drinks brands has not been unified. Whilst some leading companies immediately suspended sales in Russia, others continued to operate.

The situation concerning how western drinks brands respond to the war, and how increasingly severe sanctions will affect business in Russia, continues to develop. While some look to withdraw completely, there is also evidence that consumers are also showing their support of Ukraine and boycotts of Russian brands have already had a significant impact.

The IOC has been contacted by the drinks business but the committee has thus far remained silent on the situation.

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