I read recently in The Washington Post that McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) has been designated the Official Restaurant of the 2004 Olympic Games. This means that it is the only brand-name restaurant in the Olympic athletes' village, the main sports complex, and the press center. This ensures that nearly every Olympic athlete, fan, and journalist will pass a McDonald's at least once a day.

Now, you may be wondering how many Olympic athletes eat at McDonald's. Well, maybe once they walk past it a few times, they'll notice all the newly added healthy menu items. Or, perhaps when they're finished competing, they'll be looking for that special junk food treat, of which McDonald's still offers plenty of options.

Just look at gymnast Carly Patterson. In May, she said she couldn't remember the last time she ate at a McDonald's. Yet, within the past week, she tried a salad and yogurt parfait. Her response? "It's fruit and yogurt. It's good for you."

Of course, I'm not naïve enough (and neither is McDonald's) to think that Carly and the other athletes are going to start eating at McDonald's on a regular basis. But that's not the goal anyway. McDonald's is interested in the access to the plethora of fans in attendance and in gaining a foothold in the host country.

The company announced that it had extended its Olympic sponsorship through 2012. This will give McDonald's significant presence in China, which is one of its primary growth markets and just happens to be playing host for the 2008 games in Beijing. The company plans to increase its number of restaurants in China by 65% in time for the 2008 opening ceremonies. With the extremely popular Yao Ming as a spokesperson and its presence in the current Olympics, McDonald's should be successful in China prior to the 2008 games and after.

The move is a clear indication that McDonald's is not willing to rest, satisfied with its recent comeback. The company is maintaining its focus and is looking to continuously expand its brand globally. All I can say to the competitors such as Wendy's (NYSE:WEN) and Yum! Brands (NYSE:YUM) is good luck, but I think you'll be battling it out for silver and bronze for some time to come.

Fool contributor Mike Cianciolo welcomes feedback and doesn't own any of the companies in this article.