ATLANTA: Coca-Cola Company chairman/ceo Neville Isdell says the world's biggest soft drinks maker fully backs the Beijing Olympic Games torch relay, currently under siege by protestors at China's policies in Tibet.

Coke is a major sponsor of the Games and Isdell told the company's annual shareholders' meeting in Delaware: "I don't believe that stopping the torch run is in any way over the long-run going to be the right thing to do.

"It has symbolized openness. It has symbolized hope."

He was also questioned over Coke's business practices in India, where it stands accused of depleting water resources; and of failing to protect workers' rights in Colombia – allegations the company has denied.

Coke also reported a 19% rise in first-quarter profit to $1.50 billion (€945m; £751m), resulting from acquisitions and overseas growth and offsetting less robust numbers in North America.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff