The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo were postponed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. They were rescheduled to happen this year, with the opening ceremony set to kick off this Friday, but things aren’t running smoothly. The island nation has seen a sharp spike in coronavirus cases leading up to the games, with some residents calling for them to be canceled again, and now Toyota has announced it’s pulling its Olympics-themed commercials.
Business Insider is reporting that a senior Toyota executive has announced that the company is pulling its Olympics-themed commercials from airing in Japan. Jun Nagata, Toyota’s chief communications officer, declined to specify why Toyota was pulling its ads, though he did tell the publication that there were things “not understood” about the games. Toyota apparently filmed a spot earlier this year with several of the athletes the company sponsors. The company’s commercials will continue airing in the US as planned, according to an NBCU spokesperson in an emailed statement.
“The media plan for Toyota’s Olympic and Paralympic global ad campaign is managed by individual countries and regions,” Toyota Motor North American said in a statement. “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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The announcement that Toyota would pull its ads for the game arrives alongside news that CEO Akio Toyoda and others will skip the event’s opening ceremony. However, the company still plans to supply more than 3,000 vehicles to the games. The Olympics often have little to do with the automotive community. However, this year, Gran Turismo was included in the first-ever Olympic Virtual Series, which wraps up this week and brings a dash of motorsports to the iconic competition.
The Olympic Games are watched all around the world, offering advertisers millions of new eyes. Pulling the ads from such a potentially large audience is no easy decision, though one likely driven by the decision to distance the carmaker from the event, according to speculation noted by the publication. The coronavirus pandemic has roiled automakers in more ways than one over the last year, and the virus is continuing to cause chaos for many companies around the world and for billions of people still waiting on a vaccine.