It might not quite have been what Pierre de Coubertin had in mind when he coined the “faster, higher, stronger” motto of the modern Olympics. But the world’s largest fast-food chain is using the Games in London next year as a pretext to break its own records; it has announced plans to open the world’s biggest, and busiest, McDonald’s restaurant on the Stratford site.
Metres from where famous athletes will strain every sinew to win their medals, up to 1,500 people will be able to dine in the biggest McDonald’s yet built. The two-storey, 3,000 sq-metre, diner will be one of four McDonald’s restaurants built in and near the Olympics park in east London. There will be two public eateries, one in the athlete’s village, one in the media centre.
The firm insists there is no discrepancy between the Games’ ideals and its plans to serve 1.75m of its meals during the 29 days of the Olympics and Paralympics…
But its presence is bound to attract protests from those who feel the Games should not be so closely associated with potentially unhealthy food brands.
The London organising committee will say that it relies on its own domestic sponsors, who have raised £700m, and the International Olympic Committee’s 11 backers, to find two-thirds of its £2bn Games budget. The organisers promise a wide range of food available at the Olympics park, including from local suppliers. But it will all have to be unbranded, with only official sponsors afforded the right to have their names on the food they sell.
McDonald’s is expected to use the Games to try to highlight its “corporate social responsibility“. It has been involved in the recruitment of 70,000 Games volunteers and has pledged re-use of the furniture, refrigeration plants and other equipment in its other UK restaurants after the Olympics.
Um, OK. Aside from vegans who would have a tough time convincing muscle-based athletes to give up animal protein, I guess the “local food” crowd will be the focus of opposition.
Though some of the best days I spent living on the cheap in east London relied on animal protein from a dozen different cultures – who offered great street food.