McDonald's has sponsored the Olympics since 1976, contributing—along with other top sponsors—more than $1 billion over every four-year cycle of the Games. But today, the fast-food chain announced it was pulling out of its contract three years early as part of the company's larger effort to "[reconsider] all aspects of [its] business."
McDonald's now-void contract was set to run through the 2020 summer Olympics in Tokyo. As of now, its sponsorship will end after the Olympic Winter Games Pyeongchang 2018, a decision the International Olympics Committee says it supports, according to BBC. "In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, we understand that McDonald's is looking to focus on different business priorities," Timmo Lumme, managing director of IOC Television and Marketing Services, said in a statement. "For these reasons, we have mutually agreed with McDonald's to part ways."
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McDonald's business seems to be rapidly changing: in recent months, the chain has rolled out Big Mac ATMs and touch-screen ordering kiosks, introduced dystopian-like uniforms, paired with UberEats to deliver its already fast food, and this week, offered wannabe employees the chance to apply to the company through Snapchat.
"As part of our global growth plan, we are reconsidering all aspects of our business and have made this decision in cooperation with the IOC to focus on different priorities," McDonald's Global Chief Marketing Officer Silvia Lagnado told Reuters.
The IOC told Reuters is isn't considering a replacement for McDonald's. In January, the committee signed a deal with China's Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. through 2028.
The IOC may not be in a hurry to replace McDonald's loss because the committee has come under fire in recent years from public health lobbyists who argue allowing companies such as McDonald's and Coca-Cola—which push products many consider to be unhealthy—sends the wrong message to viewers and athletes. Regardless of those health concerns, the famed burger chain's outpost in the Olympic Village was always a favorite of athletes and attendees alike. It's safe to say the games won't quite be the same come summer 2020.