TOKYO, July 19 (Reuters) – Tokyo 2020 sponsor Toyota will not air Olympics-related TV commercials in Japan amid lackluster public support for the Olympics, two-thirds of Japanese people doubt organizers can secure the Games safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a local media survey.
Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) general manager Akio Toyoda and other executives will also not attend the opening ceremony, Toyota said on Monday.
“It is true that Toyota will not attend the opening ceremony, and the decision was made taking into account various factors, including the absence of spectators,” said a spokesperson.
“We will not broadcast any Games related advertising in Japan,” she added.
Toyota has already started running its Olympic ads on Comcast Corp-owned NBC broadcaster (CMCSA.O) in the United States and will continue to do so during the Olympics and Paralympics, according to a statement from Toyota Motor North America.
Some 60 Japanese companies that paid more than $ 3 billion for deferred 2020 Olympics sponsorship rights now face a dilemma over whether to tie their brands to an event that has so far failed. failed to gain strong public support.
Just four days away from the opening ceremony in Tokyo, 68% of those polled in a poll by the Asahi newspaper expressed doubts about the ability of Olympic organizers to control coronavirus infections, with 55% saying they were opposed to the continuation of the Games.
Three-quarters of 1,444 people polled by telephone said they agreed with the decision to ban spectators from the events.
As COVID-19 cases increase in Tokyo, now under its fourth state of emergency, the public is increasingly concerned that hosting an event with tens of thousands of athletes, officials and foreign journalists could speed up infection rates in the Japanese capital and introduce more infectious variants. or more deadly.
The President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, said he hopes the Japanese public will rejoice in the Games once the competition begins and Japanese athletes start winning medals. The Tokyo Olympics run from July 23 to August 8.
“We will continue to cooperate and work closely with organizers such as the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Tokyo 2020 and the IOC to ensure a safe and secure environment for the Games,” said government spokesperson, the secretary. Chief of Cabinet Katsunobu Kato during a regular briefing. .
Games officials on Sunday reported the first case of COVID-19 among competitors in the Athletes’ Village in Tokyo, where 11,000 athletes are expected to stay during the Games. As of July 2, Tokyo 2020 organizers have reported 58 positive cases among athletes, officials and journalists.
Any major outbreak in the village could wreak havoc on competitions as infected or isolated people would not be able to participate. Olympic officials and individual event organizers have contingency plans to deal with infections among athletes.
A Tokyo 2020 spokesperson said the village was a safe place to stay, adding that the infection rate among athletes and other Games-related people visiting Japan was nearly 0.1%.
Six British track and field athletes and two staff were forced into self-isolation after someone on their flight to Japan tested positive on Sunday.
“Many athletes can have parties or ceremonies before going to Tokyo where there can be cheers or greetings. So they can also run the risk of getting infected in their own country,” said Koji Wada, professor at Tokyo International University of Health Welfare and an adviser on the government’s response to the coronavirus.
The latest increase in the number of cases in Tokyo comes after four previous waves, the deadliest of which was in January. New cases of COVID-19 in Tokyo reached 1,410 on Saturday, the highest number since the start of the year, with new infections surpassing 1,000 for five consecutive days.
Most of these new cases are in younger people, as Japan has successfully vaccinated most of its vulnerable elderly population with at least one injection, although only 32% of the overall population has received one so far. .
Japanese musician Keigo Oyamada, who described in magazines decades ago how he bullied his classmates, said on Twitter that he was stepping down as a songwriter for the Olympics opening ceremony, when the last blow to the Games.
Organizers of the Olympics on Monday rejected calls for his dismissal.
Other officials resigned ahead of the Games for inappropriate comments, including former Tokyo 2020 chief Yoshiro Mori in February and creative director of the opening and closing ceremonies Hiroshi Sasaki in March.
In the political arena, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he would not travel to Japan for the Games or a first in-person summit with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga after media quoted a senior diplomat Japanese making offensive remarks about him. Read more
Monday also brought a warning from the organizer of Tokyo 2020 following reports in local media that visitors linked to the Games were drinking in downtown Tokyo. In an email, he warned Olympic participants who had completed their 14 days of isolation to comply with Tokyo’s emergency declaration rules by staying away from bars serving alcohol or restaurants remaining. “illegally” opened after 8pm.
“These incidents were also raised in the National Diet and could seriously damage the reputation of the Tokyo 2020 Games and your organizations,” he said.
For Tokyo residents already living with these lockdown restrictions, traveling on their city’s roads 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 have also increased toll charges by 1,000 yen ($ 9) for private vehicles using the network of elevated freeways that wind through the city in an attempt to reduce traffic during the Games.
($ 1 = 110.0800 yen)
Reporting by Tim Kelly and Rocky Swift; Additional reporting by Helen Coster in New York; Editing by Michael Perry, Hugh Lawson and Peter Cooney
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