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Coca-Cola, the Olympics longest-standing sponsor, was tonight forced to issue a grovelling apology after it deleted the birthplace of the Games, Greece, from a map displayed at the Olympic Park during London 2012.

The omission has caused fury in Greece with hundreds of messageboards condemning Coca-Cola, which has been associated with the Olympics since Amsterdam in 1928 and been a TOP sponsor since the programme was launched in 1986.

Coca-Cola has been the Presenting Partner of the official Olympic and Paralympic Pin Trading Centres since 1988 and it was in this role that it produced the map. 

The map, displayed at Pin Trading Centres on the Olympic Park and Hyde Park, did not show several countries, including Turkey, which is particularly embarrassing for a company whose chief executive, Muhtar Kent, is Turkish. 

But it was the fact that it did not include Greece, the birthplace of the Olympics, which has proved the most controversial with insidethegames receiving several hundred comments today alone on the topic.

Coca-Cola, whose strapline for its Hellenic division is "passion for excellence", today issued an apology for the mistake after being contacted by insidethegames.

"Coca-Cola recognises and appreciates the importance, influence and contribution of Greece to the Olympics," a spokesman told insidethegames

"We regret any misrepresentation of Greece on the world maps that were displayed inside the Pin Trading Centres at Hyde Park and the Olympic Park. 

"The original maps were designed as simplified geographical renderings of countries and continents of the world and were not drawn to scale.

"As a result, several countries, including Greece, were inaccurately represented. 

"Coca-Cola has taken the matter very seriously and, once the situation was brought to our attention, as a matter of urgency, a new, more accurate design was put into production. 

"When the Pin Trading Centre on the Olympic Park reopens we will ensure it features the new map. 

"Although there is a now a lower level of pin trading at the Hyde Park Pin Trading Centre, we will ensure a new map is installed there tomorrow, August 18."

By Duncan Mackay in London

Source: www.insidethegames.biz