Olympics-Alcohol-free Corona Cero to be official Paris beer as AB InBev signs deal

LONDON (Reuters) – Anheuser-Busch InBev will be an official sponsor for three Olympic Games starting with the Paris 2024 summer event this year, the brewer said on Friday, naming its alcohol-free Corona Cero as the official beer of the Games.

The maker of Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois will be a Worldwide Olympic Partner, the highest level of Olympic sponsorship, for this year’s Games as well as the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan and the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.

AB InBev CEO Michel Doukeris said: “We are proud to be the first beer sponsor for the Olympics at the Worldwide Olympic Partner level.”

The company declined to disclose the value of the deal.

As drinks companies globally try to adapt to consumers curbing their alcohol consumption, AB InBev said the spotlighting of Corona Cero at the Olympics was part of its efforts towards “responsible alcohol consumption and moderation worldwide”.

Speaking at a launch event in London, Doukeris said that alcohol-free beer is growing faster than the overall beer category, and is a means of expanding the reach of the drink. Corona Cero is AB InBev’s flagship zero-alcohol beer.

It’s not the first time an alcohol-free beer has sponsored a sporting event: Diageo promoted Guinness 0.0 at last year’s Six Nations rugby tournament.

But booze is still central to many events. At the 2022 soccer World Cup in Qatar, fans were disappointed by a last-minute ban on the sale of alcohol in stadiums, hurting Budweiser.

The beer of the LA Games, Michelob ULTRA, does contain alcohol but is a “light” beer with a 3.5% alcohol content, AB InBev said. Michelob ULTRA will also support the U.S. national team at those Games, Doukeris said.

“For us it was a no-brainer when we saw the opportunity,” IOC President Thomas Bach said about the AB InBev deal.

Luxury giant LVMH is also a Paris Olympics sponsor, signing a deal last year expected to cost around 150 million euros that will see Moet Hennessy champagnes and spirits be provided as part of hospitality programmes at the Games.

AB InBev joins global companies including AirBnb, Alibaba, Coca-Cola, P&G, Toyota, and Visa as top Olympic sponsors.

The top-tier Olympic sponsorship programme has jumped in value in recent years, generating $2.3 billion in revenue for the International Olympic Committee over the 2017-2021 period including the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang and delayed Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

(Reporting by Helen Reid, additional reporting by Emma Rumney; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Ed Osmond)