(Reuters) – CrossFit founder Greg Glassman has apologized for a tweet that equated the police killing of a black man in the United States to the COVID-19 pandemic, after it drew widespread criticism and resulted in footwear brand Reebok breaking its ties with the fitness regimen.
In response to a tweet by research firm Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation that classified racism and discrimination as public health issue, Glassman, who is also the chief executive of CrossFit, had posted bit.ly/3f2yNb2 on Saturday, “It’s FLOYD-19”.
The tweet related to the police killing of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, in the U.S. state of Minneapolis on May 25 and was seen as insensitive.
The fallout was fast, with Adidas AG-owned (ADSGn.DE) Reebok ending its 10-year-old partnership with CrossFit and updating its U.S. homepage www.reebok.com/us in support of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign.
“Recently, we have been in discussions regarding a new agreement, however, in light of recent events, we have made the decision to end our partnership with CrossFit HQ,” Reebok said in a statement on Sunday. “We will fulfill our remaining contractual obligations in 2020.”
When Reebok tied up with CrossFit, the Adidas-owned company was struggling with falling sales and looking for a wider appeal outside its core female fans. The partnership helped the sportswear maker emerge as a personal fitness brand and return to growth in 2019.
In a statement on Twitter, Glassman said bit.ly/2MDBzaj on Sunday, “I, CrossFit HQ, and the CrossFit community will not stand for racism. I made a mistake by the words I chose yesterday. My heart is deeply saddened by the pain it has caused. It was a mistake, not racist but a mistake.”
CrossFit did not respond to a request for comment on Reebok’s action.
Reporting by Aishwarya Nair in Bengaluru and Emma Thomasson in Berlin; Editing by Arun Koyyur