Mayor Boris Johnson has been criticised for allowing Coca-Cola to sponsor a two-year scheme to increase the number of Londoners taking part in sport activities.
The soft drinks giant has agreed to match the Mayor’s £500,000 funding of a London-wide FreeSport programme which aims to allow up to 34,000 people to access free sports events.
City Hall says the firm’s donation will double the numbers of people helped by the scheme compared to previous years.
Speaking on Thursday, Mayor Johnson said: “FreeSport has been incredibly popular since it launched in 2009, giving thousands of people the chance to develop a sporting habit that will stay with them for life.
“This fantastic investment means that we will be able to help tens of thousands more Londoners to get active, try something new and lead healthier lifestyles. Whatever your age or ability, there is bound to be a sport or activity to suit, so give it a go.”
However Jenny Jones, a Green party member of the London Assembly, said the Mayor was wrong to partner with a company best known for selling a high-sugar drink.
Baroness Jones has previously criticised the Mayor for allowing McDonalds to sponsor a schools clean-up program and to hold their 40th year anniversary celebrations at City Hall.
Commenting on the tie-up with Coca-Cola, Baroness Jones said: “The Mayor has a track record of linking up events involving children with companies promoting products with lots of fat and lots of sugar.
“As Mayor, Boris Johnson is meant to be promoting healthy lifestyles, but instead he is potentially adding to the queues at doctor and dentist surgeries. Free Sport is great, but you need to keep it sugar free.”
“I can see why Coca-Cola and McDonalds want to get direct access children at these events in order to sell more and make bigger profits, but I don’t understand why Boris Johnson is helping them do it. We are in the middle of an obesity crisis and he has a responsibility for public health in London.”