Coca-Cola and the Olympic Games History
The Coca-Cola Company and the modern Olympic Games have enjoyed
a mutual growth and common historical bonds. In 1886, Atlanta pharmacist
John S. Pemberton invented the secret formula for Coca-Cola. Six
years later, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, of France, conceived the
idea for a new Olympic Games. In 1896, the first modern Olympic
Games were held in Athens, Greece, with 311 athletes from 13 nations.
At the same time, Coca-Cola was becoming available outside the United
The 1928 Olympic Games, which included 46 nations, marked the beginning
of The Coca-Cola Company's Olympic involvement - a presence that
would continue to grow to this day, through sponsorships, donations
and innovative support programs. That summer, a freighter delivered
the U.S. Olympic Team and 1,000 cases of Coca-Cola to the Amsterdam
event. This was also the first time Olympic Games competitions were
held for women, in track and field events. Meanwhile, the tradition
of lighting an Olympic Flame at the Games was revived from ancient
LOS ANGELES 1932
The Coca-Cola Company continued its support of the Olympic Games
in Los Angeles in 1932 with the introduction of an Olympic Games
scoreboard record indicator, compliments of The Coca-Cola Bottling
Company of Los Angeles. While more than 200 teenagers, dressed in
white jackets and gloves, served Coca-Cola to crowds of 105,000
in the Los Angeles Coliseum, the indicator broadened the stadium
experience by displaying the 18 world records broken. Coca-Cola
also distributed three million miniature cutouts listing Olympic
Games records to young people around the United States.
In 1934, Johnny Weismuller, swimming gold medalist in 1924 and
1928, became the first Olympic athlete to endorse a Coca-Cola product
when he was featured with actress Maureen O'Sullivan on Coca-Cola
serving trays and posters.
The 1936 Berlin Olympic Games marked the debut of the modern Olympic
Torch Relay, with the Olympic Flame being delivered from Olympia,
Greece, to Germany. A young Harvard University graduate, J. Paul
Austin, competed in the Games for the U.S. Rowing Team. Austin went
on to become president, CEO and chairman of The Coca-Cola Company.
Coca-Cola sponsored the 1936 Games, which were followed by a 12-year
hiatus surrounding World War II.
The Olympic Games resumed in 1948 in London. Overcoming lingering
effects of the war that made local bottling and transportation difficult,
Coca-Cola shipped equipment from Glasgow, Scotland, and Belfast,
Northern Ireland, to meet the thirsty demands of athletes and spectators
In conjunction with the 1952 Olympic Winter Games, Coca-Cola bottlers
provided Oslo residents with their first look at a helicopter. The
aircraft initially was used in a fund-raising effort for Norwegian
athletes and then to direct traffic during the latter part of the
Despite the fact that Finland did not have a local bottler, Coca-Cola
still was served to athletes and spectators at the Helsinki Olympic
Games. More than 30,000 cases of Coca-Cola were brought to the event
from the Netherlands aboard the M.S. Marvic, a rebuilt World War
II landing craft, in what became known as "Operation Muscle."
Ice coolers and trucks from the corners of northern Europe also
were brought in, turning the ship into a floating stockroom. Coca-Cola
donated much of the product for sale by the Disabled Ex-Servicemen
Coca-Cola bottlers in Melbourne provided more than 100,000 sun visors
to fans entering the Olympic Stadium, while 420 venders sold ice-cold
Coca-Cola throughout the Olympic Games venues.
SQUAW VALLEY 1960
While the underdog U.S. ice hockey team surprised the world with
a gold medal performance, spectators at the 1960 Olympic Winter
Games were served Coca-Cola in 12-ounce cans for the first time.
During the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, Italian bottlers of Coca-Cola
showed their support by presenting thousands of athletes, officials,
media and spectators with an original, 45-rpm recording of the favorite
song of the day, "Arrivederci Roma."
The Coca-Cola Company published a history of the Olympic Winter
Games for athletes, officials and visitors at the Innsbruck 1964
Olympic Winter Games.
The Company continued its tradition of enhancing the Olympic Games
experience for the fans and media at the 1964 Tokyo Games with the
production of guide maps, street signs, sight-seeing information
and a Japanese-English phrase book. The translation guide was so
popular that it was used as a template for the 1968 Games in Mexico
City, the 1972 Olympic Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan, and the 1972
Olympic Games in Munich, Germany.
The Coca-Cola Company joined other U.S. corporations as a sponsor
of national television broadcasts from France of the 1968 Olympic
Winter Games on ABC-TV.
MEXICO CITY 1968
In a show of pride for the space program, The Coca-Cola Company
outfitted its servers at 1968 Olympic Games venues in red-and-white
astronaut suits equipped with backpack dispensers. Olympic-themed
television commercials for Coca-Cola products brought the Games
experience into the homes of millions of viewers that year, when
1960 swimming gold medalist Lynn Burke appeared in a Coca-Cola TV
Coca-Cola managed the entire food-and-beverage service for 15,000
athletes and officials at the Munich Games. In the United States,
the Company created a "Great Olympic Moments" series of
17 commemorative medallions, with sales proceeds donated to the
U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) to support American athletes.
"Olympic Harmony," an Olympic Winter Games feature film,
was produced by The Coca-Cola Company in conjunction with the Innsbruck
1976 Olympic Winter Games.
As a gift to the people of Canada, Coca-Cola Ltd. purchased the
horse "Regardez" and donated it to the Canadian Equestrian
Team, for use by its captain.
LAKE PLACID 1980
The Coca-Cola Company conducted a national fund-raising tour for
the USOC featuring "Kobot," the world's first figure-skating
robot. The Company also initiated a version of the Coca-Cola Olympic
Radio Network, which broadcast Olympic Games results to millions
Coca-Cola was the Official Soft Drink of the 1980 Olympic Games.
More than 1.1 million Coca-Cola cans were produced in the Netherlands
and Germany, filled in Austria, and shipped to Yugoslavia for the
1984 Olympic Winter Games.
LOS ANGELES 1984
During the year, Coca-Cola implemented a series of youth programs,
including a national Olympic Youth Soccer Competition, an Olympic
educational program for schools, and Olympic Youth Jamborees, which
provided underprivileged children a chance to experience the Olympic
Coca-Cola was the first corporate sponsor of the 1984 Los Angeles
Olympic Games. The event's mascot, Sam the Eagle, was depicted on
a series of 23 commemorative Coca-Cola cans. The mascot also was
shown with a bottle of Coca-Cola on a limited-edition, prototype
Olympic lapel pin - today a very rare artifact. Trading cards featuring
"America's Greatest Olympians" were included in 12-packs
of Coca-Cola products.
The Coca-Cola Company broke new ground in 1988 when it orchestrated
the creation of the "Coca-Cola World Chorus," which performed
at the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Olympic Winter Games
in Calgary. Comprising 43 young people selected from 23 countries
through competitions sponsored by local Coca-Cola bottlers, the
chorus performed the specially commissioned signature song of the
Games, "Can't You Feel It?" for the local throngs and
millions of television viewers. Calgary 1988 also saw the debut
of the first Coca-Cola Official Olympic Pin Trading Center, which
drew more than 17,000 visitors each day and quickly became another
Olympic Games tradition - the Games' No. 1 "spectator sport."
For the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games, The Coca-Cola Company sponsored
two Olympic Pin Trading Centers and a nationwide contest among South
Korea's 11.7 million students to design the first-ever commemorative
pin for an Opening Ceremony.
The new Coca-Cola Radio was introduced at the 1992 Olympic Winter
Games in Albertville. State-of-the-art broadcast facilities, located
within the Coca-Cola Olympic Pin Trading Center in nearby Courchevel,
allowed disc jockeys from nearly 30 major U.S. cities to deliver
live reports about the athletic events, special activities and the
spectacle of the Olympic Games to a daily listening audience of
approximately five million.
Pin trading, meanwhile, reached new heights. The Pin Trading Center
and traveling PinMobiles served more than 350,000 collectors, who
traded some 1.2 million pins.
In Spain, Coca-Cola brought together 155 citizens from more than
50 nations to participate in the Olympic Torch Relay for the 1992
Barcelona Games. The International Olympic Torchbearers Program,
sponsored by Coca-Cola, marked the first time people from other
countries participated in the host country's Torch Relay. The torchbearers
were selected through local and national promotions staged by the
worldwide Coca-Cola system.
In 1994, the Coca-Cola Polar Bear featured in Company advertising
became one of the world's most-popular winter sports "competitors."
And the International Olympic Torchbearers Program, sponsored by
Coca-Cola, repeated its Spain success, bringing 30 torchbearers
from 13 countries to Norway to help carry the Olympic Flame through
Oslo as it made its journey to Lillehammer.
For the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games, Coca-Cola was the exclusive
presenter of the Olympic Torch Relay - the longest Relay in Olympic
Games history, at 15,000 miles - and played a lead role in the selection
of 2,500 of the 10,000 torchbearers. The Company also expanded its
International Olympic Torchbearers Program by selecting as many
as 500 participants from approximately 70 countries.
When the Games unfolded in Atlanta, Coca-Cola put out the welcome
mat in its hometown to enhance the fan experience. Specially created
interactive venues, including Coca-Cola Olympic City, The Coca-Cola
Folk Art Exhibit, and Olympic Pin Trading Centers, became central
gathering places visited by hundreds of thousands of people.
The 12-acre Coca-Cola Olympic City attraction in Atlanta provided
fans an opportunity to test their Olympic Games abilities in virtual
reality challenges, a place to receive tips from coaching legends,
and a chance to meet and greet Olympians. The Coca-Cola Folk Art
Exhibit celebrated artistic traditions interpreted on a common canvas
- the trademark Coca-Cola contour bottle. The Pin Trading Centers
experienced unprecedented traffic levels, with more than three million
pins changing hands. Pin popularity was further bolstered by Coca-Cola
support of the 1996 Olympic Games Pin Society.
The 1998 Olympic Torch Relay, presented by Coca-Cola and the Company's
GEORGIA Coffee brand in Japan, brought the Olympic Flame to local
citizens along three simultaneous routes. Through nationwide and
international promotions, Coca-Cola selected 550 torchbearers and
2,700 support runners to participate in the Relay.
Along with the ubiquitous Coca-Cola Olympic Pin Trading Center,
the Company also created Fan Plaza and Fan Stations to provide refreshment
and interactive entertainment for fans at the Nagano 1998 Olympic
Winter Games. Also for the first time at any Games, Coca-Cola warmed
up fans with the sale of hot beverages alongside cold drinks, providing
a full assortment of winter refreshment.
Coca-Cola Radio brought more than 50 disc jockeys from around the
globe to broadcast Olympic Games excitement from Nagano, while a
Coca-Cola Olympic Games Web site gave Internet users an online Games
experience. Coca-Cola also sponsored the Kirie Art Program, which
provided 3,500 prints of Japanese Kirie art to Olympic athletes
and officials as keepsakes of the Games. The artworks reflected
six different themes inspired by the region's natural scenery and
were used to decorate rooms within the Olympic Village.
For Sydney 2000, Coca-Cola shared the spirit of the Olympic Games
with fans internationally through Olympic Pin Trading, Coca-Cola
Radio (which grew to nearly 60 participating stations) and the new
"Coca-Cola Olympic Club: Sydney" and "Powerade-Aquarius
Training Camp" - two similar, once-in-a-lifetime experiences
for teens from around the world. Both international activities offered
young participants a unique, behind-the-scenes Olympic Games experience,
including use of state-of-the-art, Olympic Games-style facilities,
tickets to Olympic Games events, meetings with Olympic athletes,
and tours of Sydney's attractions and Olympic Games venues. In demonstrating
to teens what it is like to be an Olympic athlete, Powerade-Aquarius
Training Camp also featured sports clinics with athletes and coaches.
For host country citizens and visitors alike, Australia's enthusiasm
for the Games was captured through Coca-Cola RedFest celebrations
in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, with live entertainment
and big-screen presentations of the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.
SALT LAKE CITY 2002
Coca-Cola marked the 10th anniversary of its first association with
the Olympic Torch Relay by serving as co-presenter and selecting
more than 3,500 of the total 11,500 torchbearers for the 13,500-mile
spectacle that blazed through 46 American states. The Company again
brought consumers from other nations (nine countries for 2002) to
be torchbearers in the host country of the Games. More than 2,100
support runners also were provided through Coca-Cola, and unveilings
of "Coca-Cola Community Canvas" teen artworks highlighted
local celebrations in each city welcoming the Olympic Flame. In
addition, Coca-Cola commissioned world-renowned artist Peter Max
to create a commemorative painting, as a tribute to the inspirational
Community Canvas artworks and the Olympic Games. The Peter Max creation
was donated to Salt Lake City.
During the 2002 Games in Utah, more than 700,000 people connected
with Coca-Cola's Olympic interactive experiences in Salt Lake City
and Park City. As at past events, crowds typically swelled at the
ever-popular Coca-Cola Olympic Pin Trading Centers, while a new
attraction, Coca-Cola On The Ice, became the fan focal point outside
competition venues. On The Ice featured high-tech winter sports
simulations and plenty of crowd action, so guests could experience
first-hand the thrill of the luge, bobsled, hockey and curling,
as well as the emotion of receiving a medal on the victory stand.
"Coca-Cola Live" interviews with Olympic legends enhanced
entertainment for Pin Trading Center visitors, while multicultural
"Coca-Cola Ambassadors" - hailing from five continents
and speaking some 20 languages - provided an extra-warm reception
and helped unite people from around the globe.
At the wintry Coca-Cola Radio broadcast hub in Park City, on-air
personalities from more than 45 U.S. stations beamed first-hand
accounts of the 2002 Games atmosphere to their loyal listeners.
Fans in cyberspace also kept track of the Olympic Torch Relay and
Salt Lake Games through www.coke.com/Olympics, which recorded more
than one million visitors. Meanwhile, residents in the surrounding
Rocky Mountain region were randomly receiving free Olympic tickets,
courtesy of roving Coca-Cola Fan Vans. The Coca-Cola Company also
was helping safeguard the local environment during the high-traffic
period by testing its first 100-percent biodegradable cold drink
cup, as well as ensuring a complete "recycling loop" for
plastic soft drink bottles collected at the event.
The Coca-Cola Company's rich history with the Olympic Movement is
unrivaled, and for each Olympic Games, Coca-Cola approaches its
involvement with renewed creativity, enthusiasm and commitment to
bring something innovative and meaningful to the experience. For
the ATHENS 2004 Olympic Games, the Company is continuing its tradition
of helping to create magical moments for athletes and fans in Greece
and around the world.
Coca-Cola helped take global participation to new heights through
its major role in the "ATHENS 2004 Olympic Torch Relay Presented
by Coca-Cola." For the first truly worldwide Olympic Torch
Relay - a symbol of unity and inspiration - the Olympic Flame traveled
internationally to more than 30 cities on the five land masses represented
by the Olympic Rings. The flame then returned to the Games' host
country for a one-month-long Relay around Greece that culminated
with the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron on Aug. 13 at Athens'
Olympic Stadium. Coca-Cola selected many of the more-than 11,000
torchbearers and approximately 2,000 escort runners who shepherded
the Olympic Flame on its historic, round-the-world journey. The
theme for the ATHENS 2004 Olympic Torch Relay was, "Pass the
Flame, Unite the World."
Coca-Cola also proudly serves as Official Soft Drink Sponsor of
the ATHENS 2004 Olympic Games, quenching the thirst of athletes,
officials, media and fans who will attend the Games. The Company's
worldwide operations are creating numerous local programs to refresh
fans everywhere and connect them with the Olympic spirit.
Coca-Cola also has demonstrated its commitment to the Olympic Movement
by establishing and supporting permanent Olympic institutions. In
1979, the Company helped the USOC create the U.S. Olympic Hall of
Fame, to honor America's greatest Olympic athletes and preserve
American Olympic Games artifacts.
The Coca-Cola Olympic Women's Sports Program was established in
1982, as The Coca-Cola Company increased its overall involvement
in women's sports programs, in tandem with the dramatic rise in
female participation in Olympic sports and athletics in general.
In 1987, Coca-Cola became the first sponsor of the Olympic Museum
in Lausanne, Switzerland, with a pledge of US$1 million to the International
Olympic Committee. The museum, which opened in 1993, showcases the
legendary history of the Olympic Games