Top IOC sponsor Toyota pulls Olympics advertising amid public opposition
Toyota, the Japanese car giant that is one of the major sponsors of the Olympic Games, is reported to have decided not to run related advertising in the country during the upcoming Tokyo 2020 games.
The move was prompted by opposition among the Japanese public to the games, amid rising coronavirus cases, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper.
It is further claimed that Akio Toyoda, the chief executive of Toyota Motor, will not be attending the opening ceremony on Friday.
Toyota is one of the worldwide partners of the International Olympic Committee in a deal that took effect in 2015, before the last summer games in Rio.
However, it is limiting publicity around Tokyo 2020, already delayed from last year because of Covid-19.
Yomiurui Shimbun quoted a PR executive close to Toyota as saying: “The Olympics is becoming an event that has not gained the public’s understanding.”
The IOC, the Tokyo 2020 organising committee and the Japanese national and local governments have insisted that, despite rising coronavirus cases in Japan, the games can be held safely.
However, a new poll from the Asahi newspaper today showed that 68 per cent of Japanese people had doubts about the ability of the organisers to control infections, while 55 per cent are opposed to them taking place.
In light of a fourth state of emergency in the Tokyo region, the decision has already been taken to exclude spectators from the games.
Amid tight regulations, many of the 11,000 athletes set to compete in the Olympics have already arrived in Japan.
However, there have been 58 positive cases among athletes, officials and media since 2 July, with the individuals involved having to be quarantined as a result.
Speaking at a regular briefing today, Katsunobu Kato, the Japanese government spokesperson and chief cabinet secretary, said: “We will continue to cooperate and work closely with organisers such as [the] Tokyo metropolitan government, Tokyo 2020 and the IOC to ensure we have a safe and secure environment for the games.”
In recent days, there have been protests against the Olympics outside the athletes' village, but IOC president Thomas Bach has urged the Japanese public to get behind the games.
In a media briefing on Saturday, he said: "We are very well aware of the scepticism, obviously that a number of people have here in Japan. My appeal to the Japanese people is to welcome these athletes who are here for their competition of their lives and to acknowledge that is not for any price.
"They have the same interest as the Japanese people in ensuring these games are safe and secure. And for this they accept and even welcome measures that make these Olympics the most restricted sports event not only in Japan but in the entire world.
"What will make the games so historic is the demonstration that they can happen in a safe and secure way, even under the circumstances of the pandemic."