Should Coca-Cola be Allowed to Sponsor the Olympics?

Coca-Cola claims to be the longest continuous sponsor of the Olympic games, having paid more than 0 million for the exclusive rights to be the official provider of non-alcoholic drinks at the games.

According to a Coca-Cola spokesperson:

This funding is critical to enable athletes from around the world to train, prepare for, and compete in the Games. Without the support of The Coca-Cola Company and the other worldwide sponsors, as many as 170 of the 200 National Olympic Committees would be unable to send athletes to compete.

I understand that corporate sponsors are necessary to help fund the Olympics, but partnering up with Coca-Cola seems a lot like blood money. While Coca-Cola claims to share the Olympic values of excellence, participation, friendship and respect, this partnership seems a little - forgive the pun - flat.

Yesterday, I was driving down the highway and saw one of Coca-Cola’s Olympic ads. In it, an athletic female swimmer is reaching underwater for a bottle of Coke. With her toned muscles glistening under her team USA bathing suit, the ad seems to imply that drinking Coke is part of a healthy lifestyle. In actuality, drinking Coke is more likely to give you type II diabetes than a gold medal.

In a lot of ways, the Coke billboard reminds me of tobacco advertisements from decades past. Whether it was a photograph of muscled men playing volleyball while smoking cigarettes or endorsements by athletes like Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays, the tobacco industry was undoubtedly trying to position their product well in the minds of health-conscious consumers.

Here are the facts: Drinking just one soda a day can equal an extra 25 pounds of weight per year. And sugary beverages are the largest source of added sugar for the average American - equaling about 50% of the typical person’s increased calorie consumption. This leads to obesity, heart disease and, of course, the diabetes epidemic. Some 25.8 million Americans have diabetes and another 79 million adults are estimated to have pre-diabetes.

While there’s plenty of blame to go around, we shouldn’t be broadcasting any implied connection between drinking soft drinks and physical health or athletic performance. Make no mistake: Soda is poison for our bodies - and to give Coca-Cola such a high level of visibility at the Olympics seems to fly in the face of that which the games stand for.


Though America’s sugar consumption has dipped in recent years, check out this infographic to see the depth of our problem:

Infographic credit:

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  1. Wow this was very informative. I am definitely sharing the image your provided so other can see it because it has gotten really bad with how casually Americans consume unhealthy things. I partake in a soft drink on occasion when out with friends but it’s usually one glass of a lighter soda like “siera mist”. Always great to read your fitness blogs Davey.

  2. I like how you write an article related to personal health and irony about soda drinking. However, in your entire article I did not see one link to an outside source to validate your ‘findings’. Corroborate your facts, and don’t just make assumptions. ~ Also one source for a health article such as this is inadequate. (If you add some)

    Long time subscriber and reader, but you are really dropping the ball in these ‘health’ blogs. Get it together.


    Kent (a concerned reader)

  3. What are your thoughts then on McDonald’s sponsorship of the Olympics? Although they are advertising their “healthier options,” I would think this to be a much larger atrocity, especially since many of their meals are supplemented with a large Coke beverage. Plus McDonald’s does not have the same sponsorship history as Coke. While Coke may not instill every value of the Olympics, I feel like it’s not the “worst-for-you” sponsor out there.

  4. i see your point about everything but, i dont see why you cant enjoy a coke cola in a healthy diet, it does no harm in small doeses, when i was a child i wasnt aloud to drink coke, as it had too much sugar in it, it was a very rare treat from my grandparents, and it taught me to enjoy it, but not too often lol, you could argue anything is a poison to the body if you have too much of it

  5. Why do you pick on Coca-Cola when there are so many other soft drinks, especially those energy drinks?

    I do not encourage anyone to drink excessive amounts of anything. A Coke or Pepsi now and again won’t hurt you. I knew of an elderly man who was given the choice of drinking a can of beer a day, or going on blood thinner. the beer was probably a better option than a pill. It didn’t kill him! I don’t advise drinking a can or bottle of pop every day.

    You people say everything is bad for you. You can’t eat, or drink anything, not even the water!

    Whom do you suggest sponsor the US Olympics, a foreign company? Maybe Walmart?

    The real reason people were healthier 75 or 100 years ago was because almost everyone worked outside, and worked hard. Without the invent of modern medicine, if you were too injured, or too sick, you died.

  6. I find this a bit silly. It’s McDonald’s fault for making you fat, Coke’s fault for giving you diabetes and Starbucks’ fault for burning your lap. Whatever happened to personal responsibility? A bottle of wine a day will harm your health, a glass can make it better. Five bars of chocolate will hurt you, 1oz will help you. No one is suggesting that over consumption will give you rippling muscles but a coke now and again isn’t going to ruin your health. Don’t be blind and assume because you see an ad all things will be great. Even too much water or oxygen is fatal. Coke is a nice drink and if you lead a healthy life you won’t “suffer” from it. Heck, a few drinks of coke are even given in hospitals for certain problems!
    And the “health” food craze is also responsible for additional toxins and any number of snake-oil schemes. “Stop eating meat”… and wreck your body unless you’ve studied what to do. Replace sugar with known carcinogens. Drink “healthy” waters with grams of sugar in it and 150 calories. Balance, responsibility and quit delegating the responsibility of your life to others, government or corporation.

  7. to answer the question, of course they should be ABLE to.

    but yeah sodas are not a good idea if you are trying to keep the calories down, i’ve cut them out for the most
    part. a 6oz portion i think is reasonable once in awhile as like a treat, assuming you like coke that is.

    although, i should say, i don’t find cocaine SO addicting.

  8. Not even Coke! What abou McDonalds? I, despite how conscious I am of living a healthy life style, work there in order to gain some good money as a teenager. I dont even go near the food, as it literally smells like fat. I cant believe they sponsor the games as well. There are definitely better worldwide corporations that could help sponsor the games while having a healthy influence. The only reason thats so difficult, is because our world is surrounded by unhealthy restaurants , foods and drinks. Its really quite sad. Next thing you know, the heart attack grill will be a world wide franchise and sponsoring athletes. Its all just irony.

  9. christopher says:

    try carbonated flavoured water-Dollar General sells it.a company out of Detroit-Faygo-offers one-Klarbrunn-of Wisconsin-has another.these items are flying off the shelves.these are healthy alternatives to sugary sodas.if wanting to add an artificial sweetener-do doing this you kick soda habit.if you want to see more on campaign to ditch sodas-go

  10. Lets not breeze over the fact that Coca-Cola offers many different options for low cal / no cal beverages. In addition they have water products (Dasani), energy drinks (Power-Ade), and host programs all over the world to help not only Athletes, but also the less fortunate. The American Weight Problem cannot be blamed on any one product, but rather the lack of responsibilities one takes for their own actions. Double hit for all parents not educating their kids and then re-assigning the blame. (BTW, nice touch using the Coca-Cola color and script to help assign blame on others for your short-comings)

  11. Bernardo says:

    Although I agree with the claims that excessive soda in your diet is toxic for you, I disagree with your claim whether or not Coca-Cola should be able to sponsor the Olympics. Let us not forget that McDonald’s is also a sponsor, and so is Cadbury, and Heineken. Just because they sell delectables considered unhealthy should they be prohibited to sponsor? In my opinion, these foods that we love (and hate) have a place in our diet, in moderation. In no way is Coca-Cola sponsoring the Olympics inducing a binge on overweight Americans, nor is Cadbury, McDonalds, or Heineken.

  12. should you be allowed to push your workouts and opinions by using pictures of hot guys you find online? sex sells.. so……….


  1. […] different understandings of marketing responsibly, as a recent billboard near my home featured an Olympic swimmer reaching for a Coke. It implies a connection between Coca-Cola and health that couldn’t be further from the […]