By Gary Anderson

January 27 - A Sochi 2014 social media campaign launched by McDonald's has been hijacked by anti-gay protestors angry at Russia's stance on homosexuality ©Getty ImagesGlobal food company McDonald's is unconcerned by an avalanche of protesters who have hijacked its #CheersToSochi social media campaign which was launched last week.

Activists opposed to the controversial anti-gay propaganda legislation signed into law by Russian President Vladimir Putin last year, have used the Twitter campaign to vent their anger at the legislation and question McDonald's commitment to promoting human rights.

The #CheersToSochi initiative was launched to allow fans of teams and athletes to send personalised messages of support to competitors at Sochi 2014 and aims to allow athletes to view and print the messages onto ribbons to wear around their wrists.

However, the campaign has attracted an avalanche of messages protesting at the treatment of homosexuals in Russia and criticising McDonald's - an official Olympic partner since 1976 - for its involvement in the Games and for what protesters claim is its endorsement of Russian policy.

One message read: "NO MORE MCDONALD'S who supports genocide and discrimination for gays" while another said: "No #CheersToSochi ! Blood, violence, torture, censor, imprisonment! #LGBTI people are being murdered by your sponsorships!"

Protestors have used the CheersToSochi campaign to vent their anger at the anti-gay laws in Russia ©ITGProtesters have used the #CheersToSochi campaign to vent their anger at the anti-gay laws in Russia ©ITG

However, when contacted by insidethegames, a spokesperson for the firm would not be drawn on the continued use of its campaign by protesters but issued the following statement.

"The goal of McDonald's 'Cheers to Sochi' campaign is simple: to send Olympic athletes and teams messages of good luck," read the statement.

"We believe our 'Cheers' campaign will allow fans to inspire athletes competing in Sochi who want to hear from home.

"We are aware that some activists are targeting Olympic sponsors to voice their concerns regarding the Russian LGBT legislation.

"McDonald's supports human rights, the spirit of the Olympics and all the athletes who've worked so hard to compete in the Games.

"We believe the Olympic Games should be open to all, free of discrimination, and that applies to spectators, officials, media and athletes."

A number of high profile athletes have been enlisted to promote the #CheersToSochi campaign including Canadians Drew Doughty, a Vancouver 2010 ice hockey gold medallist, and figure skating world champion Patrick Chan, as well as Americans Patrick Kane and double Olympic speed skating champion Shani Davis.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related Stories
January 2014: 
McDonald's launches #CheersToSochi social media campaign ahead of Winter Olympics