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McDonald’s ends longtime Olympic sponsorship 3 years early

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McDonald’s ended its Olympic sponsorship agreement after more than 40 years with the IOC, three years before their current deal runs out.

“In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, we understand that McDonald’s is looking to focus on different business priorities,” Timo Lumme, Managing Director of IOC Television and Marketing Services, said in a press release. “For these reasons, we have mutually agreed with McDonald’s to part ways.”

McDonald’s will still be a PyeongChang 2018 sponsor, with its usual restaurants in the Olympic Park and Olympic Village.

McDonald’s receives plenty of Games-time buzz for its athletes’ village store, where athletes can get food for free.

The IOC has no immediate plans for a sponsor to replace McDonald’s.

McDonald’s airlifted hamburgers to U.S. athletes at the 1968 Grenoble Winter Games after they reported being homesick for American food. The restaurant became an official Olympic sponsor in 1976 and has been ever since.

It made its most headlines at the 1984 Los Angeles Games with a scratch-off promotion — “When the U.S. wins, you win” (commercial here). In a specified event, if the U.S. won gold, the giveaway was a free Big Mac. Silver, a regular order of fries. Bronze, a free Coca-Cola.

McDonald’s ended up giving away more food and drink than it anticipated because the Soviet Union announced a boycott two months before the Games. The U.S. earned 174 medals with 83 golds, about double the amounts from its previous Games.

Perhaps no high-profile Olympic athlete has enjoyed the free Olympic McDonald’s more than Usain Bolt, who famously wrote that he ate 1,000 chicken McNuggets at the 2008 Beijing Games.

In 2012, McDonald’s opened its largest freestanding restaurant in the world at the London Olympic Park for the Games, 32,000 square feet and two floors.

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Kerri Walsh Jennings pleased by result after longest break in 5 years

Kerri Walsh Jennings
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Kerri Walsh Jennings returned from her longest competition break since 2013 and, with partner Nicole Branagh, nearly beat the world’s top-ranked team.

Walsh Jennings and Branagh ultimately were eliminated in the round of 16 at the Xiamen Open in China.

“We WILL do better,” was posted on Walsh Jennings’ social media. “We actually had a great showing and learned and battled and improved – sometimes the stats don’t show everything.”

Walsh Jennings and Branagh, a pair of 39-year-old moms, played together for the first time since July 22, when Walsh Jennings’ five-times surgically repaired right shoulder popped out mid-match.

Walsh Jennings, eyeing her sixth and final Olympics in 2020, underwent a sixth shoulder surgery and an ankle surgery and did not return to training on the beach until March (her longest break between hitting a ball on sand since switching from indoor following the 2000 Olympics).

The duo won their opening Xiamen match in three sets last week, then lost a three-setter to the world’s No. 1 team in group play. Canadians Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes prevailed 21-15, 22-24, 18-16 en route to the tournament title.

After Walsh Jennings and Branagh swept American qualifiers Kelley Larsen and Emily Stockman in the first elimination round, they squandered a one-set lead in the round of 16. Australians Mariafe Artacho and Taliqua Clancy eliminated them 19-21, 21-16, 20-18.

Walsh Jennings said before flying to Xiamen that she and Branagh would next play on the FIVB World Tour at the Itapema Open in Brazil in mid-May. In four FIVB World Tour events since partnering last year, they were eliminated in qualifying once, bounced in the round of 16 twice and forfeited a bronze-medal match due to that shoulder dislocation.

Early season partner changes defined the U.S. women’s landscape. In Xiamen, one of those new teams, Kelly Claes and Brittany Hochevar, reached the final, losing to the Canadians.

It marked the first final four appearance on the senior FIVB World Tour for the 22-year-old Claes, an NCAA champion at USC with former partner Sara Hughes, and for the 36-year-old Hochevar, the older sister of former Kansas City Royals pitcher Luke Hochevar.

MORE: Walsh Jennings documents comeback from surgeries

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Watch Dateline special on McKayla Maroney, Larry Nassar; full episode

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McKayla MaroneyAly Raisman and Martha and Bela Karolyi spoke about their experiences with Larry Nassar in “Silent No More,” an NBC News’ DATELINE special that aired Sunday night.

It marked Maroney’s first interview since she went public as one of the hundreds of survivors who said they were sexually abused by Nassar, a team doctor for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University for two decades.

The Karolyis, both former U.S. women’s national team coordinators, spoke on camera for the first time regarding Nassar, too. Olympians said they were abused at the Karolyis’ ranch in Texas at national team training camps.

Maroney said that at 2011 Worlds in Tokyo she told John Geddert, the personal coach of teammate Jordyn Wieber and head coach for the U.S. team at the event, that Nassar abused her.

NBC News reported that three other people in the car at the time remembered Maroney’s account from seven years ago. Geddert did not respond to requests for comment.

Geddert was suspended by USA Gymnastics in January and is facing a criminal investigation after Nassar, who molested girls at Geddert’s gym in Michigan, was sentenced to 40 to 125 years in prison on Jan. 24. Geddert said he had “zero knowledge” of Nassar’s crimes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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MORE: Karolyis deny knowledge of Nassar crimes | Maroney’s first speech on Nassar