Oscar-winning actor George Clooney, brand ambassador for Omega Watches, is urging the company to speak out against China’s foreign policy in Sudan, say media reports.
Omega is one of 12 worldwide Olympic partners for this summer’s Games in Beijing. It has been the Olympics’ official timekeeper since 1932.
“I have talked with Omega [about China] for over a year and will continue to talk to Omega,” Clooney told the BBC in March. “I have and will go to places [where] I and China do business and ask for help.”
“We have discussed this issue with Mr. Clooney,” said Nicholas Hayek, chief executive of Swatch Group, which owns Omega, in a statement to the BBC. He expressed “full respect” for Clooney’s “strong engagement [in] the good cause and share his opinion, especially concerning Darfur. We’re proud to work with a person who has such high ethical views.”
But Hayek said Swatch Group’s policy is “not to get involved in politics, because it wouldn’t serve the cause of sport, which is one of the most noble human endeavors for creating understanding and peace all over the world.”
Hayek told the BBC Swatch Group’s stance isn’t new. “Our role, with 300 on-site timekeepers, was always clear of politics,” said Hayek. That’s why, he said, it was in Moscow during the 1980 Olympics, despite a boycott by Western countries after the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan, and why “we provided our services to the athletes during the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles,” which were boycotted by the then-Communist bloc.
China has trade and military links with the Sudanese government, which is accused of backing militias that have raped and murdered in Darfur. At least 200,000 people have been killed in Darfur and 2 million forced from their homes in the five-year conflict.