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Olympic sponsor Coca-Cola bows to public pressure and suspends operations in Russia

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The Coca-Cola Company has become the latest major sponsor of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to announce its suspension of business in Russia in the wake of the Ukraine invasion.

Coca-Cola’s ongoing operation in Russia had come under criticism, as have to continuing operations of  other Olympic sponsors sponsors P&G, Alibaba, Atos and Bridgestone.

“Our hearts are with the people who are enduring unconscionable effects from these tragic events in Ukraine,” a Coca-Cola statement said.

“We will continue to monitor and assess the situation as circumstances evolve.”

Coca-Cola’s sparkling soft drink brands include Coca-Cola, Sprite and Fanta.

The company also produces a range of hydration, sports, coffee and tea brands and has a range of nutrition, juice, dairy and plant-based beverage brands.

Coca-Cola joined another of The Olympic Partners (TOP), Airbnb, who had suspended operations in Russia and Belarus earlier in the week.

Luxury watch group Swatch, which has TOP sponsor Omega under its umbrella, put exports to Russia on hold, while technology giant Panasonic decided to suspend transactions to Russia due to “economic, logistical and other practical challenges”

It also donated ¥20 million yen (£132,000/$174,000/€160,000) to the Polish Red Cross and to Peace Winds Japan, a non-governmental organisation providing assistance to Ukraine.

Coca-Cola has followed other IOC TOP sponsors such as Samsung, which has suspended shipment of its chips and phones to Russia ©Getty Images
Coca-Cola has followed other IOC TOP sponsors such as Samsung, which has suspended shipment of its chips and phones to Russia ©Getty Images

Samsung has suspended shipments of its phones and chips to Russia, with the South Korean technology corporation donating $6 million (£4.56 million/€5.53 million), a sixth of that being in the form of electronic products.

Toyota’s branch in Ukraine stopped all activities on the first day of the invasion – February 24 – while Toyota Motor Russia stopped all of its production on Friday (March 4), also stopping the import of vehicles, until further notice, due to supply chain disruptions.

Allianz said it will give €10 million (£8.24 million/$10.8 million) to humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, willing to also donate up to €2.5 million (£2.06 million/$2.54 million) to match employee donations.

Russian and Belarusian customers have been frozen out by chipmaker Intel, who condemned the invasion in a statement while stating they have suspended shipments to the countries.

Visa have suspended their operations in Russia, although some observers have claimed this is a measure that has misfired.

Their cards will still work until their expiry date comes, but cards issued abroad will no longer work in Russia; and Russian cards will not work abroad, leading to criticism from those who have fled their home nation and do not have a foreign payment card yet.

P&G, meanwhile, have announced they are halting spending on capital investments, advertising and promotions and will sell only products that focus on basic health, hygiene and personal care.

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