January 8, 2009

No more Olympic support from Home Depot

A Home Depot official says the U.S. home improvement retail chain will no longer sponsor the Olympics and Paralympics.

Home Depot spokeswoman Jean Niemi said as part of the company's decision to end all Olympic sponsorship after 16 years, it is ending its Olympic jobs program aimed at helping Olympic hopefuls train, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said Wednesday.

The Home Depot program had allowed Olympic athletes to be paid for full-time work and enjoy employee benefits while only working part-time at the retail chain.

The jobs program helped more than 660 Olympic hopefuls during its incarnation, including 300 who eventually made Olympic and Paralympic teams.

Niemi said Home Depot, which is based in Georgia, will allow the employee athletes to remain under the program until March 2. After that date, the workers must chose to stay on as base part-time workers, leave Home Depot or apply for any available full-time positions.

The spokeswoman told the Journal-Constitution that the company's decision was not based on the current economic crisis, saying it represented an attempt to find new costumer outreach concepts.