McDonald's? They're great for youth sport, says Tony Blair

 

Tony Blair has welcomed the presence of Coca-Cola and McDonald's as sponsors of London 2012, saying he sees no conflict between the platform given to the fast food and soft drinks giants and the aim of improving the nation's health.

"We, as a country, have obesity problems as we all know," the former Prime Minister, who has a new role in monitoring the longer term legacy of the Games, told The Independent. "Sport and diet are an important part of that. But I think, everything in its proper place and everything in moderation. I have no problem with McDonald's and Coke being sponsors here. On the contrary I'm very pleased. They would say they are encouraging young people to do sport," he added.

Mr Blair was the star turn at this week's Beyond Sport conference, one of several high-profile appearances in London in the run-up to today's Opening Ceremony.

He used the platform to dismiss cynicism about the motives of businesses sponsoring sport. "People have to be realistic about this. Businesses exist to make a profit for shareholders," Mr Blair said. "But most businesses know their brand relies on how they are perceived about what they do, which is sometimes given the fancy term 'corporate social responsibility'.

"But it is about giving something back. People are cynical. But I say to them, 'Of course companies are doing it because it helps their business and it is good they do that. Don't worry about being cynical about it. The fact they are doing it at all is good'."

Mr Blair also noted how his own relationship with sport had changed in recent years. "I came back to sport aged about 40," he said. "Between leaving university and becoming leader of the Labour Party I didn't do a lot of regular exercise at all.

"At 40, I took up tennis, which I'd never really played before. And now I work out a lot … My equivalents of previous generations of politicians probably wouldn't and you'd be deemed insane if you'd suggested otherwise years ago." He cited the views of Winston Churchill as evidence. "Churchill was once asked how he kept so well. 'Sport' he said. 'I never do it'."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness