Tokyo Olympics: Olympic sponsor Toyota ‘concerned’ over growing public frustration with hosting Games

With the increase in Covid-19 cases in Japan, citizens are questioning the appropriateness of hosting such a major sporting event, with some of those expected to compete in Tokyo becoming a target.

“We have been deeply concerned by reports that athletes have become the target of some people’s frustrations with the current medical situation,” said Jun Nagata, Toyota chief operating officer.

Toyota is one of 15 global companies that make up the Olympic Partners (TOP) program – the highest level of Olympic sponsorship – which grants them “category-exclusive marketing rights for the Summer, Winter and Olympic Games. and youth ”. Toyota joined The Olympic Partner program in 2015.

“And we’ve been working to identify what we can do as a sponsor to help this situation because we are really concerned about the situation as the main sponsor,” Nagata added.

“We sincerely hope and wish peace of mind to all the athletes and the people of this country that can be assured, and that is the frank and honest feeling we have at this time.”

READ: The Japanese city supporting South Sudan at the Olympics

Concerns grow

Japan recently extended its third state of emergency in the country amid the pandemic, raising safety concerns for Japanese volunteers, athletes, officials and the public.

An online petition calling for the Tokyo Olympics to be canceled has garnered more than 200,000 signatures in recent days.

Meanwhile, the United States Track and Field Team (USATF) announced on Wednesday that it had canceled its pre-Olympic training camp in Japan, citing uncertainty surrounding the competition.

“The USATF provided opportunities for national competitions through its Journey to Gold – Tokyo series and encouraged the USATF team athletes to stay in the United States and train,” the USATF said in a statement. communicated.

“The USATF and its athletes look forward to the Tokyo Olympics and are grateful to the people of Chiba Prefecture and across Japan for their continued support.”

The move comes as at least 35 of Japan’s 528 Olympic “host cities” have canceled deals to host athletes during the Games.

The “Host Town” project is expected to welcome athletes from 184 countries to Japan for training and cultural programs.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) spokesperson Mark Adams assured reporters on Wednesday that plans to host full games are moving forward, despite growing public concern.

The postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics are scheduled to begin on July 23, 2021.

Diksha Madhok and Chie Kobayashi contributed reporting.

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