Toyota Films Olympic TV Ads in Japan Over Covid-19 Concerns

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Toyota said on Monday it has decided against broadcasting Olympic-themed television commercials in Japan; This is a symbolic vote of no confidence by one of the nation’s most influential companies just days before the Games begin during a national state of emergency.

The Japanese public has expressed strong opposition to the Games, which have been postponed for a year due to the pandemic, concerned that the influx of visitors from around the world could turn it into a Covid-19 super-spreader event, frustrating national efforts to maintain coronavirus levels. low.

A company spokesperson told local media at an online press conference that Toyota will refrain from airing television commercials at home during the Games and that its CEO Akio Toyoda will not attend the opening ceremony.

According to the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, spokesperson Jun Nakada said, “Several aspects of these Olympics are not accepted by the public.”

Toyota Motor North America said in a statement that ads will continue to appear in other markets. “In the US, the campaign has already been shown nationally and will continue to be shown as scheduled with our media partners during the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020,” the statement said.

The company had prepared advertisements for the event, but will not post them due to concerns that highlighting its affiliation with the Games might provoke a backlash, according to a person familiar with the company’s thinking, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak. public.

A spokesperson said Toyota will continue its commitments to support Olympic athletes and provide transportation services during the Games.

The vast majority of Japanese people oppose the holding of the Games, which, under the current circumstances, will begin on Friday, under polling demonstrations, and many of them directly call for its cancellation.

Japanese officials and Olympic officials downplayed the concerns, saying strict measures against the coronavirus would allow the Games to be held safely.

But concerns continued to rise. Earlier this month, Tokyo entered its fourth state of emergency in an effort to stem a spike in virus cases as the country faces the more contagious Delta variant. Cases, which remained low compared to many other developed countries, reached more than 1,000 people per day in the city, raising concerns that measures that managed to control the spread of the coronavirus may be losing their effectiveness.

Complicating the situation further is a constant stream of news about Olympic staff and athletes who tested positive for the disease after arriving in Japan.

Toyota became a top Olympic sponsor in 2015, joining an elite class of corporate backers who paid top dollar for the exclusive right to showcase the Games’ iconic rings in their advertisements.

Until the pandemic hit, the company was one of the most visible supporters of the Olympics. At the start of the event, much of Tokyo’s taxi fleet has been replaced with a sleek new Toyota model that prominently features the company’s logo next to the Olympic rings. The company has pledged to make the event a showcase for its technological innovations, including self-driving vehicles to ferry athletes around the Olympic Village.

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