French charity boycotts Olympic torch relay over Coca-Cola sponsorship

A French environmental charity says it has turned down the chance to take part in next Thursday's Olympic torch relay in Marseille over Coca-Cola's sponsorship of the event.

"Clean My Calanques", an NGO in the southern port city of Marseille that specialises in cleaning up beaches, received funding from the 2024 Paris Olympics organising committee for its work educating school children.

But on Monday it announced that it would not take part in the torch relay which begins in the city on 8 May, partly in opposition to financing from premium Olympics sponsor Coca-Cola.

"We are not going to carry a flame which is paid for by the same people who make us bend over," to pick up waste, the founder of Clean My Calanques, Eric Akopian, told news agency AFP.

Polluting Olympic 'goodies'

Set up in 2017, the organisation's volunteers clean beaches around Marseille and in the nearby national Calanques park, whose narrow coves and azure waters make it a popular spot for tourists and locals.

Akopian said Coca-Cola was one of the world's "most polluting" companies, with its bottles and cans some of the products found most frequently during the charity's beach-combing operations.

In a video message posted on Instagram, he said the organisation had decided it was "not comfortable" with the commercial aspects of the Olympics, although he stressed they had "nothing against sports, or the athletes".

The Olympic flame set sail from Athens last Saturday on board the Belem – a historic 19th-century three masted ship.

(with AFP)

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