Toyota May Be Distancing Itself From the Games

Company will not run Olympic ads in Japan
By Liz MacGahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 19, 2021 12:48 PM CDT
In Surprise Move, Toyota Won't Run Olympic Ads in Japan
Toyota President and CEO Akio Toyoda, left, and IOC President Thomas Bach pose in 2015. Toyota signed on as an Olympic sponsor then, but won't be airing any Olympic-themed advertisements on Japanese TV during the Tokyo Games. The decision underlines how polarizing the Games have become in Japan.   (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)

Coronavirus cases in Japan have risen to 1,000 per day just as the Tokyo Olympics are set to start. Now Toyota, a top sponsor of the Games, says it will not run any Olympics ads in the country, and its chief executive won’t attend the opening ceremonies, the New York Times reports. The move by a company that has a sponsorship deal reportedly worth almost a billion dollars has some wondering if the car company is concerned affiliation with the Games will hurt its reputation, reports the Washington Post, which calls the decision an "extraordinary" one. “There is a mixed public sentiment towards the Games,” says Masa Takay, a spokesperson for the Tokyo Olympics.

Toyota spokesperson Hideaki Honma downplayed the news, saying that the company had never planned to run Olympic-themed ads in Japan—the Hollywood Reporter thinks otherwise—and that the company was skipping the opening ceremonies out of respect for all the other people who can’t attend, CNN reports. This summer’s Olympics will have no in-person spectators. Protesters are demonstrating in Japan, and many are calling for the Games, which start July 23, to be canceled. A poll in the Asahi newspaper in Japan showed that most people there doubt officials will be able to contain the virus and a majority would prefer the Games not happen at all. (More 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games stories.)

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