Toyota pulls Olympics-related adverts as backlash to Games continues

The extraordinary decision by the country’s top carmaker underlines how polarising the Games have become in Japan

Yuri Kageyama
Monday 19 July 2021 17:16
Comments
'Go Home!': Anti-Olympic protesters demonstrate against the IOC in Tokyo

Toyota won't be airing any Olympic-themed adverts on Japanese television during the Tokyo Games despite being one of the International Olympic Committee’s top corporate sponsors, it has been confirmed.

The extraordinary decision by the country's top carmaker underlines how polarising the Games have become in Japan as Covid infections rise ahead of Friday's opening ceremony.

“There are many issues with these Games that are proving difficult to be understood,” Toyota chief communications officer Jun Nagata told reporters Monday.

Chief executive Akio Toyoda, the company founder's grandson, will be skipping the opening ceremony.

That's despite about 200 athletes taking part in the Olympics and Paralympics who are affiliated with Toyota, including swimmer Takeshi Kawamoto and softball player Miu Goto.

Mr Nagata said the company will continue to support its athletes.

Being a corporate sponsor for the Olympics is usually all about using the Games as a platform to enhance the brand. But being linked with a pandemic-era Games may be viewed by some as a potential marketing problem.

Masa Takaya, a Tokyo 2020 spokesperson, said sponsors each make its own decisions on their messages.

“There is a mixed public sentiment towards the Games,” Takaya said. “I need to emphasise that those partners and companies have been very supportive to Tokyo 2020. They are passionate about making these Games happen.”

Toyota Motor Corporation signed on as a worldwide Olympic sponsor in 2015, in an 8-year deal reportedly worth nearly $1bn (£730m), becoming the first car company to join the IOC’s top-tier marketing program.

The sponsorship, which started globally in 2017, runs through the 2024 Olympics, covering three consecutive Olympics in Asia, including the Tokyo Games.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in