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Glance: Olympic Sponsors on Russia’s Anti-Gay Law

Thursday Feb 6, 2014
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AP) - Protesters in cities around the world have called on major sponsors of the Winter Olympics in Sochi to speak out against Russia’s law restricting gay-rights activities. Led off by a blog post from AT&T on Tuesday, a total of three sponsors of the U.S. Olympic team have openly condemned the law so far, but leading global sponsors have not joined them.

A look at responses from many of the top sponsors of the International Olympic Committee and U.S. Olympic Committee:

- McDonald’s Corp. (IOC sponsor): "McDonald’s stands for inclusion and we welcome, respect and value the diversity, culture and unique differences of our 69 million customers and approximately two million employees of company-owned and independently owned and operated McDonald’s restaurants worldwide," said McDonald’s spokeswoman Becca Hary in an emailed statement. "We support the spirit of the Olympic Games and its ability to unite the world in a positive and inspirational way. We’ve been a proud sponsor of the Games for 38 years. We are aware that some activists are targeting Olympic sponsors to voice their concerns regarding the Russian LGBT legislation. McDonald’s supports human rights, the spirit of the Olympics and all the athletes who’ve worked so hard to compete in the Games. We believe the Olympic Games should be open to all, free of discrimination, and that applies to spectators, officials, media and athletes."

- General Electric Co. (IOC sponsor): Declined to comment.

- Dow Chemical Co. (IOC sponsor): "We are engaged with the IOC on this important topic and support its recent statement that sport is a human right and the Games should be open to all," Louise Adhikari, a Dow spokeswoman, said in a statement.

- Coca-Cola Co. (IOC sponsor): "As one of the world’s most inclusive brands, we value and celebrate diversity. We have long been a strong supporter of the LGBT community and have advocated for inclusion and diversity through both our policies and practices. We do not condone intolerance or discrimination of any kind anywhere in the world. As an Olympic sponsor since 1928, we believe the Olympic Games are a force for good that unite people through a common interest in sports, and we have seen firsthand the positive impact and long-lasting legacy they leave on every community that has been a host. We support the core values of the Olympic Movement - excellence, friendship and respect - and are proud to continue our role in helping to make the Olympics a memorable experience for athletes, fans and communities all around the world. We are engaging with the International Olympic Committee on this important matter. We believe a more positive impact can be made through continued involvement, rather than by sitting on the sidelines."


- Visa Inc. (IOC sponsor): "As an Olympic sponsor, we believe in the spirit of the Games and their unique ability to engage the world in a way that is positive and inspirational. The Olympic Games provide the world with an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the athletes that have worked so hard to attend the games. Visa believes the Games should be open to all, free of discrimination, and that applies to spectators, officials, media and of course, athletes. Visa is aware that groups and individuals are reaching out to Olympic sponsors to voice their concerns regarding human rights. As a company and as a brand, Visa stands for inclusivity and celebrates diversity. Visa does not condone discrimination of any kind in our policies and business practices."

- AT&T Inc. (USOC sponsor): "The Olympic Games in Sochi also allow us to shine a light on a subject that’s important to all Americans: equality. As you may know, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community around the world is protesting a Russian anti-LGBT law that bans "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations." To raise awareness of the issue, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC +0.91%, news) has called on International Olympic Committee (IOC -2.36%, news) sponsors to take action and stand up for LGBT equality. AT&T is not an IOC sponsor, so we did not receive the HRC request. However, we are a long-standing sponsor of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), we support HRC’s principles and we stand against Russia’s anti-LGBT law. AT&T has a long and proud history of support for the LGBT community in the United States and everywhere around the world where we do business. We support LGBT equality globally and we condemn violence, discrimination and harassment targeted against LGBT individuals everywhere. Russia’s law is harmful to LGBT individuals and families, and it’s harmful to a diverse society. We celebrate the diversity of all Olympic athletes, their fans, Russian residents and all people the world over - including and, especially, our employees and their loved ones. As the games begin, we’re here to support and inspire American athletes who’ve worked hard and sacrificed much to achieve their dreams. We also want to be on record with our support for the LGBT community, and we hope that others involved with the Olympic Games will do the same."

- DeVry University (USOC sponsor): "As a USOC sponsor, DeVry University, and its parent organization DeVry Education Group, supports the diversity of our U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes, as well as our DeVry Group colleagues around the world. We are against Russia’s anti-LGBT law and support efforts to improve LGBT equality."

- Chobani (USOC sponsor): "It’s disappointing that in 2014 this is still an issue. We started Chobani to provide better food for more people, and our company has always believed in diversity and inclusion. We are against all laws and practices that discriminate in any way, whether it be where you come from or who you love -for that reason, we oppose Russia’s anti-L.G.B.T. law," said Hamdi Ulukaya, founder & CEO.

- United Airlines (USOC sponsor): "United supports equality and fosters an inclusive and diverse culture in which employees and customers are accepted, valued, respected and treated fairly. As a proud sponsor of Team USA, United has flown Olympic and Paralympic athletes year-round to and from training, competitions, Trials and Olympic Games for more than 30 years. We are proud to support their efforts to fulfill their Olympic dreams wherever the games are held."

- BP PLC (USOC sponsor): Spokesman Scott Dean said the oil company believes everyone should have equal opportunities, but is not planning to address Russia’s anti-gay law. "Our sponsorship of the USOC is about supporting Team USA, not engaging in political or policy debates," said Dean.

- TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. (USOC sponsor): "As a proud sponsor of the United States Olympic Committee and Team USA, we believe that all athletes who have worked and earned the right to compete, regardless of nation, race, religion or sexual orientation, deserve the opportunity to do so on an even playing field. Our strengths and individual accomplishments as people are something to celebrate, not punish. And, we believe that there is no team better to promote the spirit of diversity and inclusion on an international stage than the United States - home of the most diverse population in the world. Through Team USA, we can show the world that people do matter - on the playing field and in our everyday lives."

- Hilton (USOC sponsor): "As a diverse organization made up of varying cultures, beliefs and talents, Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. is a proud supporter of the LGBT community. The recent legislation in Russia is unaffiliated with our ongoing support of the Olympic movement. As in previous years, our mission is to help athletes on their journey to the Olympic and Paralympic Games, fostering and promoting the values and spirit of the Olympics amongst our guests and members."

- Kellogg Co. (USOC sponsor): "As an Olympic sponsor of Team USA, Kellogg’s is focused on supporting the power of the Games to reinforce unity through a celebration of excellence among people around the world. We are aligned with the Olympic charter that prohibits any form of discrimination and clearly calls out the practice of sports as a human right that should be available to all."

- Citigroup Inc. (USOC sponsor): "As a company, Citi strongly supports equal rights, which is a principle of the Olympic movement. We have a longstanding record of supporting inclusion and diversity, including, among other personal characteristics, those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender. We support the ongoing efforts by the United States Olympic Committee to address this issue with the International Olympic Committee."

Copyright Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

This article is part of our "Sochi-ology" series. Want to read more? Here's the full list»

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