Toyota Motor Corporation President and CEO Akio Toyoda and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach pose for photographers after signing official documents on March 13, 2015 in Tokyo, Japan.
Chris McGrath | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Toyota, the sponsor of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, will not be running any TV commercials related to the Games as public support for the Olympics is lackluster.
Toyota Motor’s chief executive officer Akio Toyoda and other executives will not attend the opening ceremony, Toyota announced on Monday.
“It is true that Toyota will not be attending the opening ceremony and the decision was made taking various factors into account, including the absence of spectators,” said a spokesman.
“We will not be showing any commercials related to the Games in Japan,” she added.
Around 60 Japanese companies that paid more than $ 3 billion for sponsorship rights to the postponed 2020 Olympics are now faced with the dilemma of locking their brands into an event that has so far not received strong public support.
Just four days before the opening ceremony in Tokyo, 68% of respondents in a poll conducted by the Asahi newspaper expressed doubts about the Olympic organizers’ ability to control coronavirus infections, with 55% saying they were against hosting the Games.
Three quarters of the 1,444 people in the telephone survey stated that they would agree to a ban on spectators from events.
With the rise in Covid-19 cases in Tokyo, which is in the fourth state of emergency, public concern has grown that hosting an event with tens of thousands of overseas athletes, officials and journalists could accelerate infection rates in Japan’s capital and introduce variants the higher are contagious or fatal.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said he hoped the Japanese public would warm up to the Games once the competition starts and Japanese athletes start winning medals. The Tokyo Olympics run from July 23 to August 8.
“We will continue to work closely with organizers such as the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Tokyo 2020 and the IOC to ensure that we have a safe environment for the Games,” said government spokesman Katsunobu Kato at a regular briefing.
On Sunday, the Games officials reported the first case of COVID-19 among competitors in the athletes’ village in Tokyo, where 11,000 athletes are expected during the Games. Since July 2, 2020 Tokyo organizers have reported 58 positive cases among athletes, officials and journalists.
Any major outbreak in the village could ravage the competitions as those who are either infected or isolate would not be able to compete. Olympic officials and individual event organizers have contingency plans to deal with infections in athletes.
A Tokyo 2020 spokesman said the village was a safe place to stay, adding that the infection rate among athletes and other game-related people visiting Japan was nearly 0.1 percent.
Six British athletes and two employees were forced to isolate themselves on Sunday after someone tested positive for Covid-19 on their flight to Japan.
“Many athletes may have parties or ceremonies before going to Tokyo for cheers or greetings. So they can also run the risk of contracting the infection in their own countries, ”said Koji Wada, a professor at Tokyo International University of Health, Social Welfare and a government advisor on coronavirus response
The recent surge in cases in Tokyo comes after four previous waves, the deadliest of which was in January. The number of new COVID-19 cases in Tokyo hit 1,410 on Saturday, the highest since the beginning of the year, with new infections topping 1,000 for five consecutive days.
Most of these new cases affect younger people, as Japan has managed to vaccinate most of its vulnerable elderly population with at least one vaccination, although so far only 32% of the total population has received a vaccination.
Olympic organizers on Monday rejected calls for Olympic composer Keigo Oyamada to be fired for controversial remarks he made in the 1990s. Oyamada, who is involved in preparations for the opening ceremony, spoke about the bullying of a disabled classmate in an interview published in a magazine.
Other officials resigned in the run-up to the Games for making inappropriate comments, including former Tokyo 2020 chief Yoshiro Mori in February and creative director for the opening and closing ceremonies, Hiroshi Sasaki, in March.
Politically, plans for the first face-to-face summit between Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and South Korean President Moon Jae-in became uncertain during the Games due to media reports made abusive remarks about Moon by a senior Japanese diplomat.
For Tokyo residents, traveling on their city’s streets became more difficult on Monday as the city prepared for the start of the Olympics with new traffic restrictions, including reserved lanes for Olympic officials, athletes and journalists.
Transportation authorities also increased tolls by 1,000 yen ($ 9.08) for private vehicles that use the network of elevated highways that meander through the city to reduce traffic during the Games.
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