Live Updates: Tokyo Olympics: NPR

Toyota, Panasonic and other major Japanese companies are distancing themselves from the Tokyo Olympics despite spending millions to sponsor the Games. Here, guidelines can be seen on the floor inside the National Stadium, the main venue for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Noriko Hayashi / Bloomberg via Getty Images


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Noriko Hayashi / Bloomberg via Getty Images


Toyota, Panasonic and other major Japanese companies are distancing themselves from the Tokyo Olympics despite spending millions to sponsor the Games. Here, guidelines can be seen on the floor inside the National Stadium, the main venue for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Noriko Hayashi / Bloomberg via Getty Images

After spending hundreds of millions of dollars to sponsor the Tokyo Olympics, some of Japan’s biggest companies are now canceling advertising, cutting back on promotional events, and canceling plans for executives to attend the next opening ceremony.

It’s part of an apparent effort by companies to distance themselves from a largely fanless show – an event that many Japanese believe shouldn’t take place in the midst of a pandemic.

On Tuesday, electronics giant Panasonic said its CEO would not attend the Games kick off on Friday. Telecommunications and IT companies NTT, NEC and Fujitsu have announced plans for their executives.

A day earlier, automaker Toyota said its CEO Akio Toyoda would not be attending the opening ceremony, despite it being a key sponsor of the Games. The company is also canceling its advertising related to the Olympics in Japan.

All the firms explained their decisions, noting that spectators are banned from most Olympic events. But corporate sponsors, foreign dignitaries and other VIPs will be allowed, at least during the opening ceremony.

Jun Nagata, Toyota Director of Communications Told Reporters on Monday said the automaker decided to pull its ads from the Japanese media market in part because, “for various reasons,” the Games lack popular support.

The implication is clear: some 60 Japanese corporate sponsors pay a record $ 3 billion to associate their products with an event that is normally popular and widely watched. But the latest poll from Asahi Shimbun Journal shows that 58% of those questioned in Tokyo oppose the holding of the Games.

Nationally, 68% of those polled said they disbelieved the organizers’ claims that international competition can take place safely.

Tokyo and other regions are under a fourth state of emergency, to fight a new wave of coronavirus infections. Despite safety protocols and organizers’ promise to run safe and secure games, 67 Olympics-related infections were reported from Tuesday.

Some sponsors canceled the promotion cabins outside sports venues, as there will be no spectators to visit them. Others expressed frustration at the uncertainty and chaos that hampered preparations.

One such example was the controversial announcement by organizers last month, before spectators were widely banned, that alcohol would be sold at Olympic venues. The decision was overturned the next day. But many Japanese were at the start unworthy the idea that alcohol would be sold at the Games, while their own neighborhood bars and restaurants would still be banned from serving alcohol.

There were also suspicions that Asahi Breweries, which had the exclusive rights to sell beer at the Games, had influenced the initial decision. Asahi rulers are among those skipping the Olympics opening ceremony.


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