Toyota pulls Olympics advertising from Tokyo Games in Japan amid national backlash

·2-min read

With polling continuing to show a majority of Japan's population opposed to the upcoming Olympics, Toyota is sitting the Games out on the advertising front. In its home country, at least.

The Tokyo-based automaker announced on Monday that it's pulling Olympics-related TV advertising in Japan during the Games, which start on Friday with the Opening Ceremony. It will, however continue to advertise in other markets, including the United States.

Toyota's decision arrives as the spread of COVID-19 continues to rise in Tokyo, prompting concern that the presence of the Olympics will only further the public health crisis. With fans barred from attending the Games amid a nationwide state of emergency and lockdowns limiting business operations in Tokyo, organizers and Japan are expected to miss out on billions of dollars in revenue.  

This photo shows the Olympic rings installed by the Nippon Bashi bridge in Tokyo on Thursday, July 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)
This photo shows the Olympic rings installed by the Nippon Bashi bridge in Tokyo on Thursday, July 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)

Polls show widespread opposition to hosting Olympics

A survey conducted by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper released on Monday found that two-thirds of respondents don't believe that Japan can host a safe and secure Olympics. Other recent polls have shown nationwide opposition to hosting the Games ranging from 50 to 78 percent.

“Various aspects of this Olympics aren’t accepted by the public, Toyota’s chief communications officer Jun Nagata told reporters in Japan on Monday.

While the company pulled it Japanese advertising, Toyota also announced that chief executive Akio Toyoda won't attend Friday's Opening Ceremony. This is despite Toyota's sponsorship of roughly 200 Olympic and Paralympic athletes, according to the Associated Press. The company plans to continue to support those athletes, according to Nagata.

Toyota heavily invested in Olympics

Toyota is one of the International Olympic Committee's most significant partners. According to AP, the automaker signed an eight-year deal worth nearly $1 billion with the IOC in 2015 to become a global Olympics sponsor. The company explained its decision to continue to advertise elsewhere in a statement.

“The media plan for Toyota’s Olympic and Paralympic global ad campaign is managed by individual countries and regions," the statement reads, per The Hill. "In Japan, the local Toyota office previously decided not to air the campaign out of sensitivity to the COVID-19 situation in that country.

“In the U.S., the campaign has already been shown nationally and will continue to be shown as planned with our media partners during the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.”

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