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Toyota pulls Olympic-themed ads off Japanese television

The move adds to the growing resentment against the Summer Games.

Carmaker Toyota will not air any Olympic-themed advertisements on Japanese television. The news comes a few days before the global sporting event kicks off on July 23, 2021 in Tokyo.

Akio Toyoda, CEO, Toyota, and other executives will not be attending the opening ceremony either. Japan Times quoted the carmaker’s spokesperson saying, “It is true that Toyota will not be attending the opening ceremony, and the decision was made considering various factors, including no spectators. We will not be airing any commercials related to the Games in Japan.”

Domestic sponsors had shelled out a record $3 billion-plus and then some millions more to offset the expenses that arose from the Games’ delay due to COVID. (The 2020 Summer Olympics were originally scheduled to take place in Tokyo last year, but got postponed due to the pandemic.)

The move adds weight to the growing resentment against the Summer Games that was bolstered when Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga put capital city Tokyo under its fourth COVID-related emergency to arrest the resurgence of infections.

Almost seven in 10 respondents said they believe the Games can’t be held safely, according to a new poll by The Asahi Shimbun’s, a leading Japanese newspaper.

This is a major hurdle and embarrassment for the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Toyota is not just one of the biggest and most trusted brands in Japan, it is also a global Olympic Games sponsor; a deal first signed in 2015 for an eight-year period worth nearly $1 billion.