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Starbucks Banned at Sochi? No Problem. NBC Finds a Way to Smuggle It In.

Would you do anything for your Starbucks fix? If so, NBC understands. The network has created an "illicit" Starbucks in the Sochi media center.

Since Starbucks isn’t an Olympic sponsor, the coffee giant is forbidden to have an official presence at the Games. However, NBC has reportedly erected a Sochi Starbucks in its cordoned-off area, serving free drinks around the clock to NBC’s 2,500 employees in town for the Olympics.

With the nearest Starbucks 350 miles away, NBC has to fly in baristas from Starbucks locations around Russia, provide them with accommodations in Sochi and pay them regular wages.

Related: From Chipotle to Starbucks: 6 Chains That Do Mobile Apps Right

NBC Starbucks apparently has skirted regulations by not publicizing their services and not opening the Starbucks to the public. Starbucks addicts, primarily from the U.S., have been trying their hardest to get a drink from their favorite coffee chain. However, Olympic fans and athletes not associated with NBC are forced to stick McDonald’s McCafe offerings.

While McDonald’s is reportedly unconcerned with Starbucks infringing on the Sochi market, the preference for Starbucks illustrates the difficulties the fast food chain faces as it attempts to boost “coffee-driven visits.” 

As McDonald’s works to become a worthy coffee-competitor to Starbucks, the chain needs to learn from Sochi. Even if McDonald’s is dominating the Olympic Games as a major sponsor, the demand for Starbucks still makes it the unquestioned coffee of choice. 

Related: Health Department Isn't Laughing at Dumb Starbucks' Parody Coffee

Kate Taylor is a staff writer for Entrepreneur.com.

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