McDonald's has become the latest household name to pull out of the Olympic Games, ending its relationship three-years early.

The US fast-food giant has pulled the plug on its 41-year association with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) with immediate effect.

The firm's latest agreement with the IOC was due to run until the 2020 Tokyo summer Olympics.

McDonald's had been part the IOC's top sponsors program that contributes more than one billion dollars in every four-year cycle for the winter and summer games. It first became an official Olympics sponsor at the Montreal games of 1976.

The restaurant chain becomes the latest US group to abandon its sponsorship of the games in the past two years, following Budweiser, Citi, Hilton, TD Ameritrade and AT&T.

Observers say the IOC's sponsorship program has suffered as a result of the numerous drug scandals that have beset athletics, the centrepiece of the summer games.

McDonald's global chief marketing officer Silvia Lagnado said: "As part of our global growth plan, we are reconsidering all aspects of our business and have made this decision in cooperation with the IOC to focus on different priorities."

Timo Lumme, managing director of IOC television and marketing services, added: "In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, we understand that McDonald's is looking to focus on different business priorities. For these reasons, we have mutually agreed with McDonald's to part ways."

The IOC has looked to Asia for new sponsorship deals. It announced in January that Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba would sponsor the next six Olympics, in a move estimated to be worth $600m.