Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Follow the money: Olympic protest movement turns its sights on to sponsors

Activists believe their protests are already having an effect. The angry reception afforded the Beijing torch relay in London, Paris and San Francisco earlier this month caused acute discomfort to the relay sponsors Coca-Cola, Lenovo and Samsung. Last week, Human Rights Watch accused "cowardly" partners of "remaining "largely silent" in the face of abuses; just a few days earlier the media freedom body Reporters Without Borders disrupted Coca-Cola's annual general meeting.

Campaigners say some sponsors are raising concerns privately.

"Realistically, everyone who signed up for Beijing knew there were various risks involved," said Damien Ryan, a Hong Kong-based media consultant advising several sponsors. He acknowledged that this "risk factor has escalated". 

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