By Tom Degun


October 23 - Coca-Cola will not block plans by London 2012 to let spectators attending the Olympics bring in their own drinks to venues despite its own multi-million pound sponsorship of the Games.


Paul Deighton, the chief executive of London 2012, revealed this week that organisers will not impose a ban on fans bringing in drinks from Coke's rivals, including Pepsi, as long as it is in moderation.


He said: "We have no problem with that.


"A problem might occur if people try to bring huge picnic hampers with them through stadium security but a few drinks will be fine."


Coca-Cola, the longest backer of the Olympics having first sponsored them at the 1928 Games in Amsterdam, have paid more than $150 million (£100 million) for the exclusive rights to be the official provider of non-alcoholic drinks at the Games but claimed that they do not object to the plans by London 2012 to let spectators bring in the drinks of other manufacturers.


A Coca-Cola spokesman told insidethegames: "The responsibility for deciding what can and cannot be brought inside Olympic venues is a matter for LOCOG and we will support their decisions.


"As the Games are almost three years away, we are still talking to LOCOG about their plans but we are committed to providing our wide range of drinks, including sparkling, still, functional drinks, waters and juices, during Games time."


Coca-Cola are keen to avoid the negative publicity that Pepsi have been involved in after they have had organisers at events they are sponsoring prevent spectators from bringing in drinks not made by them.


At the Cricket World Cup in South Africa in 2003, for example, stewards searched fans' cool-boxes for its rival's fizzy drinks and a Johannesburg businessman was evicted from one game for drinking a can of Coca-Cola.


At the 2004 Champions Trophy cricket tournament trophy, where matches were played throughout England, cricket fans were issued with a list of drinks and snacks they could take into grounds.


Pepsi and its family of drinks, such as Tango, 7 Up and Abbey Well mineral water, were acceptable, but no other brands were permitted.


London 2012 will also provide free drinking water during the Olympics and Paralympics, an initiative also backed by Coca-Cola.


The spokesman said: “"We believe consumers should have a choice of drinks - and that includes competitors and spectators at London 2012 - so support LOCOG's decision to provide free drinking water."


Coca-Cola's involvement Olympics in London has been the subject of controversy since the capital was awarded the event in 2005 with public health experts in Britain claiming that it is difficult to reconcile their sponsorship of the Games with encouraging physical activity and fitness among the young.


But Coke, whose products are sold in more than 200 countries and who in 2005 extended their relationship with the International Olympic Committee until 2020, claim that without the backing of them and other sponsors up to 85 per cent of National Olympic Committees would be unable to compete in the Games.


Its spokesman told insidethegames: "The Coca-Cola Company is the longest continuous sponsor of the Olympic Games, beginning with the Amsterdam Games in 1928 and spanning more than 80 years.

"Our commitment to the Olympic Games is steadfast, with our agreement to sponsor them extending through to 2020.


"Our corporate sponsorship provides essential support to the teams and athletes who compete in the Olympic Games.


"Fifty per cent of our sponsorship money goes to the staging of the Olympic Games and 40 per cent goes the National Olympic Committees in countries around the world to support the training and development of Olympic athletes and teams.


"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."


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