Sports Biz with Darren Rovell

Olympic Sponsors: Some Pulling Back On Hospitality

2008 Olympics Beijing

Everyone has been focused on the Olympic sponsors and whether any one of them that ponied up tens of millions of dollars would dare pull out as a sponsor to the Olympics in Beijing in protest.

No one company has done that, but that doesn't mean plans aren't being cut--and it has nothing to do with human rights.

Companies are starting to curtail elaborate hospitality plans because they can't control what the Chinese government is willing to do in order to complete the makeshift facilities that they dreamed of building.

Over the past couple weeks, I've heard the stories from people managing things for these brands on the ground in Beijing, but today we have the first company confirming that they are compromising their hospitality plans due to logistics.

Reebok, owned by adidas, a sponsor of the BOCOG (Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games)--told the Boston Globe today that it is dropping plans for its hospitality suite because it was "being made rather difficult."

I expect this to happen with other top sponsors in the coming weeks--either completely scrapping hospitality plans or pulling back on their setup. This obviously compromises what these companies thought they paid for when they became official sponsors. The issue is that these contracts are with the International Olympic Committee and any contract or understanding forged with the Chinese government isn't as binding.

Combine that with the fact that the Chinese government is trying to deal with the thousands of people who died in the recent earthquake and it would be seen as insensitive now for a sponsor to demand that the government comply with their agreement to have running water in the hospitality tent by a previously agreed to deadline.

Update: I just spoke to Petro Kacur, senior manager of public affairs and communications for Coca-Cola . "We have not had any issues and we are not scaling back any of our hospitality plans," Kacur said. He would not disclose specifically what Coca-Cola's plans are.

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