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Tory peer wants to lead boycott of Coca-Cola over role in Beijing Winter Olympics | Olympic Winter Games 2022

A Tory colleague has vowed to lead a boycott of Coca-Cola products for sponsoring the company for the Beijing 2022 Olympics, saying his attempt to benefit from an event organized by the Chinese government was shameless.

Robert Hayward, founding chairman of the world’s first gay rugby club and former human resources manager at Coca-Cola bottlers, said it was unacceptable for companies to help use the Winter Games as a propaganda exercise as they raised concerns about the treatment of 1 million Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang Province.

Groups such as Human Rights Watch have accused Xi Jinping’s government of crimes against humanity, growing repression in Hong Kong, tightened control of the media and mass surveillance.

The UK Parliament passed a motion on genocide in northwest China in  -ril 2021, but Beijing has denied all atrocities and accused Western leaders of “lying and disinformation”.

Concern grew recently when Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai dis -peared from public life for nearly three months after accusing a senior Communist Party member of sexual assault.

Hayward said he won’t buy Coca-Cola products, which include brands like Innocent, Schweppes, and Fanta, and hopes many people would do the same.

“In taking this  -proach, you need to understand that there are many people in this world, many of whom are likely to be Muslim in many countries, but others of different faiths who just think it is unacceptable that they should . “Participate,“ he said.

People should use their personal judgment as to whether they are buying a product or a service, but “there comes a point … where you want to say, ‘No, that’s just unacceptable,'” he said.

“It is a propaganda event and I will not participate if so many people are currently suffering and losing their freedom.”

Hayward said he was against Coca-Cola because it “relied on good public image” to sell its wares, although he also expressed concern about Proctor & Gamble, another major sponsor.

He said it was unacceptable for companies to “seek prestige from a global sporting event hosted by the Chinese government” because it “has been shown in recent months to persecute the Uyghurs to an extreme”.

“I hope it sends a message to all of the major publicly traded companies that there are advantages and disadvantages to joining big sporting events,” he said, adding that he will soon be raising the issue in the House of Lords.

Based on his experience as the former chairman of the British Soft Drinks Association, Hayward said Coca-Cola should have had a “force majeure” clause in its sponsorship deal with Olympic organizers that it could activate if necessary so it could be withdrawn over China’s actions.

By refusing to buy the products in the next few months, individuals could send a message that would be much better than “the knee-jerk reaction of saying the athletes should boycott the Olympics,” he said.

An International Olympic Committee spokesman said sponsors “provide valuable financial resources that support the development of the sport at all levels of the world,” helping it raise the equivalent of  -proximately $ 3.4 million (US $ 2.5 million) Million pounds) a day to redistribute to athletes and sports organizations at all levels.

You said sponsors didn’t play a role in choosing the host country for each game.

Coca-Cola didn’t respond to a request for comment, but the company said on its website it was “the longest running, continuous sponsor” of both the Summer and Winter Olympics.

“We believe the Olympic movement is a force for good that brings people and countries together, and we are proud to use our name to raise its profile and support the most watched and respected international sporting event in the world,” said it in the message.

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