On the night of February 4, 2022, the opening ceremony in Beijing is scheduled to kick off the Winter Olympics, the second time in 14 years The Olympics will be held in China. But more than a medal will be at stake. The 2022 Olympics highlight the dilemma facing potential sponsors: The risks associated with an authoritarian regime, or forgetting the much-needed chance of gaining stardom on the global stage?
Big companies are eager to take part in the action. Visa Inc., Coca-Cola Co., and a host of other businesses will be represented in Beijing as “Olympic Partners,” the highest level of sponsorship available, a tier spanning multiple Game cycles and reserved for those who write the biggest checks and launch related marketing campaigns that most aggressive. Mars-Wrigley will also attend, handing out Snickers, “the official 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic chocolates”.
What may seem like a no-brainer – supporting a popular sporting event in a country of 1.4 billion consumers – may turn out to be a high-stakes bet. The Olympics could mark the climax trends over the years from some Western consumers, advocates and lawmakers pointing out what they perceive to be the true disadvantages of working with a country where egregious human rights abuses have been documented by US journalists and officials. At a time when a global company count on more than ever in the Chinese market, its government has proven susceptible to the slightest provocation of criticism – and is not afraid to impose economic penalties on those who cross it politically.
Supporters have asked Airbnb Inc., another Olympic Partner, why lodging is available in which countries Uighur people in Xinjiang province placed in concentration camps, subjected to forced labor and other offenses.
Airbnb is one of many companies touting itself as a model for corporate social responsibility, highlighting volunteer and non-profit outreach programs in a way that consumers increasingly consider in deciding how and where to spend their money. Regarding China, activists say, companies seem to care less.
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