A new initiative to celebrate National Olympic Day has been launched by The United Arab Emirates National Olympic Committee (UAE NOC) has been launched after they turned down an offer of sponsorship from McDonald's.
The trend over the past few years has been to organise a sports meeting for school children in one of the country's seven Emirates to mark the day.
But this year, each of the Emirates will host one sport next Thursday (December 18), where specialised personnel will guide children to learn about that particular activity with an eye on the future.
"We are looking at the bigger picture, while also sticking to our national policy and vision as laid down by our leaders of making the UAE an ultra-modern and fast-developing country," Mohammad Al Kamali, UAE NOC general secretary, told Gulf News.
The UAE NOC's decision to not accept an annual initial grant of UAE Dirham 180,500 (£32,000$50,000/€40,000) from McDonald's was endorsed by the Board of Directors.
The fast-food giant then increased its offer to UAE Dirham 918,000 (£159,000/$250,000/€201,000), but that too was refused.
"We are aware that McDonald's is an international sponsor for the IOC (International Olympic Committee)," said Al Kamali.
"But the thinking was simple - we could not accept a fast-food chain sponsoring our National Olympic Day."
In 2012, the UAE NOC launched the UAE School Olympics, where they are identifying and pruning talent at the grassroots level, and Kamali said having a fast-food company sponsor the National Olympic Day "did not exactly fit" with that.
"We are looking for a change in our thinking and approach," he added.
"This issue, in fact, figured during the IOC Session in Monaco [from December 5 to 9] and we have explained to the IOC our vision for sports and they are happy that we are moving in the right direction."
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