Sponsors weigh in on Pyeongchang scandal

Updated on Feb. 1:

Four Winter Olympics sponsors are taking extra precautions in light of controversy involving Olympic freestyle skier Peng Shuai, who will participate in Pyeongchang but was suspended by the International Olympic Committee. NBC, Adidas, Samsung and Samsung Electronics have all expressed concern and warned that a boycott of their products might be an undesirable outcome.

Just days before these games opened, a video surfaced, showing a 2015 altercation in which Ms. Shuai was violently punched by her mother. The IOC suspended Ms. Shuai and banned her from Pyeongchang. It also reprimanded China, writing that the lack of disciplinary action against her mother for the incident “cast serious doubts on China’s commitment to the Olympic charter and sportsmanship.”

The controversy has caused the four companies to look into their own company’s reactions, in addition to the standard anti-doping procedures and local government response to training centers and anti-doping policies.

“While we acknowledge the difficult position the IOC put the athletes in, we remain fully committed to the ideals of fair play and clean sport,” Adidas said in a statement. “As a brand we should not be contributing to sports that unfairly exclude our athletes, let alone ones that intentionally humiliate them.”

Adidas noted its own disciplinary and anti-doping procedures, and expressed their “sincere regret for this situation.” They added that they believe the decision has undermined the power of sport and the Olympics.

“To be quite frank, the manner in which the IOC handled this matter has undermined the power of sport and put the Olympic ideal in serious doubt,” Adidas said.

Adidas will be doing a limited-edition capsule collection in Pyeongchang, but said it would not sell their clothing in Pyeongchang. They are also looking into ways to increase their penalties for those engaging in doping and involvement in illegal abuse of prescription drugs.

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