Lackluster Support For Olympics Leads Sponsors Toyota, Bridgestone And NEC To Rethink Their Participation
In response to lackluster public and media support for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, top-tier sponsor and worldwide mobility partner Toyota announced yesterday that it has decided not to air Games-related TV commercials while Toyota’s president Akio Toyoda will not attend the opening ceremony.
Toyota has supplied hundreds of low and zero emission support vehicles to ferry athletes and officials from the Olympic Village to sporting venues, including dozens of self-driving buses which run inside the village.
With just two days to go before the opening ceremony and Olympic softball matches already underway, other major sponsors including electronics giant NEC, telecommunications corporation NTT, Nippon Life Insurance and Asahi Group Holdings among others have followed Toyota’s lead and pulled the plug on their proposed attendance at the opening ceremony. Meanwhile, another major sponsor, tire maker Bridgestone, had already decided not to broadcast planned TV commercials during the Games.
On a day when Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto was not ruling out a last minute cancellation of the Games with 1,387 infections registered in Tokyo on June 20—a doubling of cases from this time last week, it became clear that some 60 Japanese corporations who have paid more than $3 billion for sponsorship rights to the postponed 2020 Games now face a dilemma of whether or not to tie their brands to an event that has failed to garner significant public support.
An Asahi Newspaper poll found that some 68% of respondents doubt the ability of Olympic organizers to control Covid infections with over 55% saying they were opposed to the Games altogether.
Olympics and Japanese officials have forged on with the trouble-ridden event despite opposition in the country to hosting more than 11,000 athletes, officials, staff and media who have arrived amid Tokyo’s fourth state of emergency.
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International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said he hopes the Japanese public will warm to the Games once competition begins and as Japanese athletes start winning medals, although this sentiment appears unlikely to find any footing. Barring any last minute cancellations, the Tokyo Olympics will run from July 23 through August 8 and the Paralympics two weeks after that.