Adidas Chief Defends No Comments over Tibet

20 June 2008

HERZOGENAURACH, Germany: Adidas ceo Herbert Hainer insists it is not the job of sports companies and Beijing Olympic Games sponsors to speak out against the Chinese authorities' actions in Tibet.

He argues that if he and fellow sponsor firms were to take a stance against Beijing, they would also be obliged to put pressure on the US over Guantanamo Bay or "Eta in Spain and so on, and so on".

The head of the world's second-largest sports equipment and apparel maker believes the Tibet issue is one for politicians to resolve and is not the responsibility of the world of commerce.

Hainer told the Financial Times newspaper: "This conflict is, at least to my knowledge, 49 years old and it cannot be solved in a few weeks before the Olympic Games and therefore I definitely do believe that the politicians shouldn't shift their responsibility away because this is their responsibility and they should take it."

Olympic sponsors such as Coca-Cola, General Electric and Volkswagen have been under pressure from some consumers to make a stand over Tibet.

Hainer, who was attending the Euro 2008 soccer championships in Vienna, added: "The Chinese market is a very big one for us and it will shortly be the second-biggest market in the world for us, after the US market. But once again, this is not the reason why we didn't speak up on the Tibet conflict."

He maintains that improving conditions for Chinese workers is a more practical way of helping.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff