Will the BP Oil Spill Taint the Olympics?

The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been one of the top news stories for quite a while now, with the effects of the disaster being felt far and wide across the United States and the world.  Just yesterday, the New Orleans Saints, the Super Bowl Champions, went around some of the areas in which the oil spill is affecting the life of many communities to try and encourage the local residents to persevere and pull through the disaster as they had after Hurricane Katrina several years ago.  Several of the players even spoke out about the disaster and the need for something to be done about, it seems that in the U.S. right now everyone has an opinion of the oil spill as well as the company that was partly responsible for it, BP.  And BP should be worried as not only will the cost of the oil spill hurt the company in terms of their brand image, it is also going to hit them in the pocketbooks.  I was buying a bus ticket today, and the sign on the bus station even said “NO BP GAS USED”, showing that some consumers may actually be avoiding BP products.

But the question is, will people avoid the Olympics because BP is a sponsor?  That is the big question now that is being debated among the IOC, Olympic Athletes, and Agents.  While this article notes that the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) still has a strong sponsorship deal with BP, with the oil company giving between $10 to $15 million dollars to the USOC.  Already BP sponsorship and naming rights have started to be hidden, as the Chicago Cubs vs Chicago White Sox game, entitled the “BP Crosstown Cup” has removed the “BP” from the name of the games.  The IOC has said that BP will remain a valued sponsor, especially with the company contributing over $50 million to the 2012 London Olympic games organizing committee.  But agents are not happy, and some of the athletes are not happy, claiming that having BP tied with the Olympics will not only cause a backlash from the public, but will also lead to a “tainting” of the Olympics.

When Enron collapsed, the Houston Astros of MLB were quick to find a new stadium sponsor.  I wonder how long it will take for the IOC to follow suit.  My guess is that the IOC, as corrupt as it is, will not drop BP unless another oil company offers more money.

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