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Olympic sponsors feel mounting pressure ahead of Beijing Games

Over 200 groups worldwide have organized petitions and staged protests outside corporate offices to encourage Beijing Games boycottGETTY IMAGES

Human rights activists say that the "risk of offending the rulers of the world’s second-biggest economy has caused" Olympic sponsors to "stick with their deals and stay mum on China’s human rights abuses" ahead of the Beijing Games, according to Jeanne Whalen of the WASHINGTON POST. Over 200 groups worldwide "have taken part in the effort" to encourage diplomatic boycotts of the Beijing Games, "writing letters, organizing petitions and staging protests outside corporate offices." German financial services company Allianz was the "only corporation that agreed to meet with activists," but it remains "one of a dozen global Olympics sponsors." Many sponsors count China as "one of their biggest markets." For Intel, China "represents 26 percent of its revenue." Intel last month sent a letter to suppliers "asking them to avoid sourcing goods or services from the Xinjiang region," but the company "quickly became the target of fury from Chinese state media and Internet users," prompting it to apologize. Other Olympic sponsors "largely skirted questions" about China’s human rights record. Coca-Cola "declined to comment." Airbnb said its nine-year deal with the IOC, which began in '20, is not “organized around individual Games, but rather, a long-term partnership organized around the economic empowerment of individual athletes.” Swiss watch brand Omega, the official timekeeper at the Olympics since '32, said it has a policy “not to get involved in certain political issues” (WASHINGTON POST, 1/17).

SBJ Spotlight: TikTok’s threat to traditional sports media

While tech companies are consumed with finding ways to compete with TikTok, almost no one in conventional media “spends any time talking about it,” said Recode senior correspondent Peter Kafka in an Spotlight interview with SBJ’s John Ourand. “To me, that’s just an obvious disconnect.” Kafka authored a recent column headlined, “It’s TikTok’s world. Can TV live in it?” He said the main response to TikTok’s growth from traditional media execs has been to “punt and hope it’s someone else’s problem a quarter from now or two years from now.” But Kafka said that ignores the trend of conventional broadcast audiences growing older while a billion younger consumers spend most of their media time watching short video after short video. “If you’re in the business of getting anyone under the age of 30 to look at what you’re putting on a screen, you have to think about the fact that you’re probably asking them to put down TikTok and watch your thing instead,” said Kafka. “That’s a very difficult ask. … [TikTok] is insanely addictive.”

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