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Japan: Toyota, Panasonic and other big Japanese firms distance themselves from Tokyo Olympics

"Toyota And Other Big Olympics Sponsors Are Downplaying Their Ties To The Games" 20 July 2021

After spending hundreds of millions of dollars to sponsor the Tokyo Olympics, some of Japan's biggest corporations are now canceling advertising, scaling back promotional events, and scrapping plans for executives to attend the upcoming opening ceremony.

It's part of an apparent effort by the companies to distance themselves from a largely fan-free spectacle — an event that many Japanese think should not be taking place in the middle of a pandemic.

On Tuesday ( 20 July), electronics giant Panasonic said its CEO would not attend the Games' kick-off on Friday. Telecom and IT firms NTT, NEC and Fujitsu announced similar plans for their executives.

One day earlier, automaker Toyota said its CEO, Akio Toyoda, would not attend the opening ceremony, despite being a key sponsor of the Games. The company is also canceling its Olympic-related advertising in Japan.

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

Toyota's Chief Communications Officer Jun Nagata told reporters Monday (19 July) that the auto company decided to pull its ads from Japan's media market in part because, "for various reasons," the Games lack popular support.

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

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Some sponsors have canceled promotional booths outside sporting venues, as there will be no spectators to visit them.

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