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Adidas defends its Olympic sponsorship

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Adidas defends its Olympic sponsorship

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The annual shareholders meeting of sporting-goods maker Adidas, inevitably attracted protests against its sponsorship of the Olympic Games.

The demonstrators called on the company to publicly condemn what they called the Chinese government’s repressive methods. Chompel Balok of the International Campaign for Tibet said: “We’re not calling for a boycott, either economic or sporting, but Adidas through its contacts with financial leaders and with the Chinese government, should use its substantial influence.”

Questioned at the shareholders’ meeting, Chief Executive Herbert Hainer said Adidas is not a political company and he is not a politician: “Our critics are putting a moral interpretation on our involvement in the Beijing Games, as if we are not respecting ethnic standards. But simple moralizing rhetoric, accusing others, gets us nowhere. We can’t be held morally responsible for a situation we didn’t create.”

As exiled members of Tibet’s national football team demonstrated outside against Adidas’ Olympic sponsorship, inside the company’s boss said they cannot solve diplomatic or political crises and a boycott would be counterproductive.