Global soft drinks giant Coca-Cola will use sport as its main marketing tool to grow sales in China.

The most populous nation on the planet is currently Coca-Cola's fifth largest market but the company predicts China will occupy bronze medal position in time for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

The president of Coca-Cola China, Paul Etchells, says linking Coke to the games, with the support of the Beijing Olympic Organising Committee, will "inject more freshness and life into the ... brand".

The company already sponsors the Formula One Shanghai Grand Prix, the China Open tennis tournament and the NBA China Games.

Etchells says the company will increase investment in production facilities and product research and development, while at the same time recruiting more staff to meet demand.

He believes the company is on course to increase sales by 20% on last year by the end of 2004 and expects double figure sales increases for the next three to five years.

Data sourced from People