Global sports giant Nike refused to comment Thursday on its sponsorship of murder suspect Oscar Pistorius, as an advertising campaign starring the South African Olympian was pulled from local television.
A South African pay television channel which broadcasts across the continent announced it had canned a campaign featuring the runner.
Pistorius was charged with shooting dead his girlfriend on Thursday.
“Out of respect and sympathy to the bereaved, M-Net will be pulling its entire Oscar campaign featuring Oscar Pistorius with immediate effect,” M-Net Movies said in a tweet.
But Pistorius’s sponsor Nike was tight-lipped about the impact of the killing at the Paralympian champion’s Pretoria home.
“We’re not commenting on our sponsorship or relationship,” Nike South Africa spokeswoman Seruscka Naidoo told AFP.
“At this moment, it’s a matter that’s being investigated. We’re not speaking about the sponsorship,” she added, saying there was an “issue at hand here which is much bigger than a sponsorship.”
An advert for Nike that showed Pistorius setting off from the starting blocks with the line “I am the bullet in the chamber” has been removed from the runner’s personal website.
Naidoo said she was aware that the advert had been removed but said: “It’s Oscar’s website, it’s not a Nike-owned website.”
“We’re obviously extending our sympathies and condolences to all the families concerned. It’s a very tragic incident and it’s a police matter right now that is under investigation,” said Naidoo.
Seen as an inspirational athlete worldwide, the artificial-leg wearing Pistorius is linked to several corporate giants and has also modeled for a Thierry Mugler fragrance campaign.
The canned television ad campaign also featured on billboards to promote latest Hollywood movies shown by the station includes a line: “Every Night Is Oscar Night”.
It shows the athlete holding a replica of an Oscar Award.
M-Net is carried on satellite service DSTV which broadcasts throughout Africa.
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