Toyota pulling Olympics-related TV ads in Japan

A sign with Toyota and Olympic and Paralympic games logos at a closed Toyota showroom in Tokyo.
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Toyota is reportedly pulling plans to air Olympics-related television advertisements in Japan during the Tokyo Games after one of its communications officials said there are “many issues” with the event.

The Associated Press reported that Toyota, one of the top sponsors of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), will not air any advertisements on Japanese television screens during the games.

“There are many issues with these games that are proving difficult to be understood,” the company’s chief communications officer, Jun Nagata, told reporters on Monday, according to the AP.

Toyota told The Hill that it previously decided not air its Olympics advertisements in Japan “out of sensitivity to the COVID-19 situation in that country.”

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

“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,” the company added.

Nagata said on Monday the company will still support its athletes in the games. Around 200 athletes competing in the Olympics and Paralympics are affiliated with Toyota, the news service reported.

In another break from the games, Akio Toyoda, Toyota’s chief executive and the grandson of the company’s founder, will not be attending the opening ceremony on Friday, according to the AP.

Toyota told The Hill that the company’s executives will not be attending the opening ceremony “since spectators will not be present.”

Toyota Motor Corp. became a worldwide sponsor of the Olympics in 2015 after signing an eight-year deal that was reportedly worth almost $1 billion. Toyota became the first car company to become a member of the IOC’s top-tier marketing program, it added.

The sponsorship began in 2017, and will continue through the 2024 Olympic Games.

The Hill reached out to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee for comment.

There will be no spectators allowed at the Tokyo Games, which were delayed for a year due to the pandemic, and some athletes have tested positive for COVID-19, barring them from competing.

The city is currently in the midst of its fourth state of emergency, with infections on the rise in the region.

American tennis star Coco Gauff announced on Sunday that she dropped out of the games after testing positive for COVID-19. She said she was “so disappointed” to share the news.

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee revealed on Monday that an alternate on the U.S. women’s gymnastics team has tested positive for COVID-19.

–Updated at 12:43 p.m.

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