Italians ban Coca-Cola on the eve of Winter Olympics in Turin

The American corporation already contributed more than $10 million to the Torino Olympic committee

Italians do not like Coca-Cola. This is not really a surprise because the soft drink has never been a real competitor to wine, a traditional drink of choice in the Apennines. However, the bubbly beverage in red tin cans or elegant bottles still enjoys popularity with young Italians who stick to cheesy pop music and TV reality shows. Torino Winter Olympics 2006

But there is a smell of conspiracy floating in the air. A group of people decided to declare war against the multinational corporation and ban the sales of Coca-Cola in one locale at the very least. The war was declared by twelve members of the Torino city council. Being fully aware of their limited capabilities with regard to offensive operations against the giant corporation, they merely want to ban the sale of coca-cola in bars and cafeterias of the City Hall and city utility companies. The proposal would have vanished in the ozone in the different circumstances. But Coca-Cola is one of eleven official sponsors of the winter Olympic Games to be launched two and a half months from now in the city of Torino.

The American corporation already contributed more than $10 million to the Torino Olympic Committee. The proposed ban resulted in a small but nasty scandal. The mayor of Torino Sergio Chiamparino held urgent talks with the Coca-Cola representative in Italy Nikola Raffa. The mayor assured the representative that the city hall staff largely dissociated from the irresponsible proposal put forth by several members of the city hall.

The Olympic Committee had to release a special statement saying that Winter Games will not go under way without support and funds from the sponsors. The papers published an interview by Deputy Minister for Sports Mario Pescante. He was fuming and said that the whole world was poking fun at Italy again.

Do you happen to know what all that fuss was about? The flavor and ingredient characteristics of the beverage have nothing to do with the scandal. The members of the Torino city hall built their protest on the fight for human rights. They say that the reason behind their call for a boycott to Coca-Cola products is based on a legal action that has been recently brought against the corporation in the United States. The Coca-Cola affiliates in Columbia are accused of human rights violations. A number of affiliates in Pakistan, Venezuela, India and Israel are accused of conducting repressive policies against the employees and labor unions.

Twelve angry people of Turin were not the only ones who paid attention to the alleged violations. Several weeks ago the city hall of Rome also took note of the “unseemly actions” of Coca-Cola in Asia. The Rome officials called for the removal of Coca-Cola logos from a planned street parade during the Olympic flame ceremony. No matter how preposterous the proposal may look, the mayor of Rome had to intervene to smooth things over. The city hall finally agreed on the plan for the Olympic flame ceremony after Coca-Cola agreed to form a commission that would look into the company's activities in Columbia.

Now it is time for the Turin and Piemonte regional authorities to tackle the problems and bow to the sponsors. According to Turin's mayor Sergio Chiamparino, the actions of his colleagues were infantile. The president of Piemonte region Mercedes Bresso says that there is a place and time for every protest. No circumstance can justify actions that may spoil the image of the Winter Olymics, a prize Italy made every effort to win.

Winter Games are really very important to Italy and Turin alike. Following a longstanding crisis at FIAT that is a symbol of the city and its main employer, Turin is presently trying to refocus on diversified economy and tourism. The city can only benefit from investments in the Olympics. The City Hall members look like a few naïve people biting the hand that feeds them.

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Author`s name Olga Savka