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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Adidas Chief Criticizes Anti-China Protestors

May 5, 2008

Adidas Chief Criticizes Anti-China Protestors

Spiegel Online, Germany
May 03, 2008

Despite the Tibet conflict, Adidas CEO Herbert Hainer believes it's
appropriate for his company to spend €70 million sponsoring the Beijing
Olympics this summer. In an upcoming SPIEGEL interview, he criticizes
pro-Tibet demonstrators who tried to disrupt the Olympic torch relay.

Critics have called on Olympic sponsor Adidas to issue a statement
supporting dialogue with the Dalai Lama and criticizing human rights
violations by China.
In an interview with SPIEGEL to be published on Monday, the chairman of
German multinational sporting goods company Adidas has criticized
protesters who have sought to disrupt the international Olympic torch relay.

"It's okay if people use an event like this to proclaim their their
political views," said Adidas Chairman and CEO Herbert Hainer, "but it
is my opinion that they do not have the right to disrupt the torch relay
or to try to extinguish the flame."

The company, based in the western German city of Herzogenrach, is
sponsoring the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics to the tune of €70 million
($108 million).

Hainer said he had "no guilty conscience" about the presence of
paramilitary Chinese security personnel who attacked pro-Tibet
demonstrators on foreign territory during the Olympic torch relay.

"If we had anything to hide," he told SPIEGEL, "then we wouldn't be
sponsoring anything." Hainer also defended his company's sport
sponsorship program. In addition to the Chinese team, Adidas is
outfitting 15 other national teams representing 27 of the 28 summer
Olympic sports.

"The Olympic Games have been a part of our brand for years," he said. In
China, he said, the company is seeking to establish an emotional bond
with consumers. "It is our goal to have over €1 billion in sales in
China per year by 2010," Hainer said.

Adidas Chairman and CEO Herbert Hainer: The company wants €1 billion in
annual turnover in China by 2010.
He said it was his opinion that in sports you had to deal with countries
"who don't share our views of a democratic society." Human rights groups
have been pressuring Adidas to issue a statement on human rights
questions encouraging China to take up a dialogue with the exiled
Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. Hainer characterized the calls
as an "effort to drag us into politics, and we will not allow that to
happen. Otherwise, we would have to speak out against (separatist Basque
terror group) ETA in Spain and we would have to tell the government in
the USA what we think of Guantanamo."

Hainer said he didn't believe his company had suffered any image damage
because of its involvement in the Chinese Olympics. "In any case, we've
had more e-mail complaints in recent days about the use of kangaroo
leather in our shoe products than about China," he said.

SPIEGEL ONLINE will post the Herbert Hainer interview in its entirety
later this week.
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