It’s no secret there has been so much confusion, speculation and anticipation surrounding the Olympic Games taking place in Russia that something was bound to happen. With the recent controversy about security out of the way, here comes the next wave of situations that literally make you say OMG. Last week, the United States and officials in Russia were fighting over 5,000 single-serve cups of blueberry, strawberry and peach Chobani Greek yogurt that was designated for the U.S. team competing in the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games. For the longest time, the yogurt was being held in a climate-controlled storage facility near the Newark Liberty International Airport. The brand manufactures the yogurt in a facility located in upstate New York.
U.S. Chobani is one of the official sponsors of the U.S. Olympic team, but Russian officials held up the shipment due to a paperwork dispute in which the United States says the certification Russian officials is requiring is impossible to attain.
Chief Marketing Officer and Brand Officer for Chobani Peter McGuinness told the New York Times, “I’d like to think that yogurt could have diplomatic immunity.”
To add to the confusion, Democratic U.S. Senator Chuck Shumer sent a letter to Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak and to head of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach to take action on this matter.
Senator Shumer said in a news release, “If Russia doesn’t allow the yogurt shipment, the food will go to waste, the Olympic athletes will not have this nutritious food available to them, and a New York company will miss out on an important marketing opportunity in support of America’s Olympians.”
The shipment also included large containers of plain yogurt to make smoothies. For Chobani to be a sponsor, this completely negates their entire reason for sponsoring the team. Senator Shumer goes on to say, “Chobani is safe, nutritious and delicious and the Russian authorities should get past ‘nyet’ and let this prime sponsor of the U.S. Olympic Team deliver their protein-packed food to our athletes.
This topic was trending on social media with comments from people all over the world commenting on the Russian’s lack of sensitivity for Olympic team sponsors. It also created protests from other politicians in New York and Washington. Conflicts like these are nothing new between the two countries, as the relationship between the U.S. and Russia continues to experience disagreements over a variety of topics like arms control, human rights, the Syrian conflict and granting asylum to Edward Snowden.
The Obama Administration intervened, hoping to clear the way for a special dispensation from Russia for the delivery of the yogurt. A spokesperson for the Russian Embassy in Washington said the U.S. has yet to comply with the required paperwork and there would be no special treatment just because the yogurt was meant for Americans. He says of the Russians, “We are a lawful country. You should follow the rules.”
All of this for yogurt in a self-storage facility? I say let them have it.