January 11 - McDonald's is close to extending its sponsorship of the Olympics until 2020 in a $100 million (£65 million/€78 million) deal, it has been revealed here.
Gerhard Heiberg, the chairman of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Marketing Commission, hopes to seal the eight-year deal with the fast food giant during the Winter Youth Olympic Games which are due to start here on Friday (January 13).
"The situation is positive and I don't see any obstacle," Heiberg told Reuters.
"We are very close."
McDonald's current agreement with the IOC comes to an end after London 2012 and the new deal would extend their involvement in the Olympics which stretches back to Montreal in 1976.
It would cover Sochi 2014, Rio 2016 and Pyeongchang 2018 plus 2020, for which Baku, Doha, Istanbul, Madrid, Rome and Tokyo are bidding.
During the bid process for the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics there was controversy when John Lewicki, McDonald's senior director of alliance marketing, warned that the company would be more likely to renew its sponsorship deal with the IOC if they awarded the Games to Chicago, where they are based.
"The international market is very important to us, but some of the cities they are picking are not," said Lewicki.
"I'm not going to tell you if it's not Chicago, we won't renew, but if it is Chicago we probably will."
McDonald's was later forced to issue a clarification claiming that they were neutral in the race even though Andrew McKenna, the non-executive chairman of McDonald's, was co-chairman of fundraising for the Chicago 2016 campaign.
McDonald's are supporting the volunteer programme for London 2012 by helping train the Games Makers, as they will be known, and announcing plans for four outlets on the Olympic Park during the Games, including the biggest in the world.
The 3,000 square-metre (32,000 square-foot) two-story building in the Olympic Park will have 1,500 seats.
McDonald's plans to serve 1.75 million meals during the 29 day period of the Olympics and Paralympics.
McDonald's would join P&G, VISA, Omega, Dow Chemical, General Electric and Coca-Cola who already have sponsorship agreements through the 2020 Games.
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By Duncan Mackay