Olympic organizers call for postponement of Tokyo Games to allow more spectators

The big Japanese organizers of the Tokyo Olympics are calling privately for the games to be postponed for several months so more spectators can attend as businesses worry about the cost of their marketing campaigns.

The proposal was made by some promoters in recent weeks amid growing frustration with 47 Japanese companies collectively paying more than $ 3bn to restore the Games, according to people who have knowledge of the situation.

Games are set to be most promoted sports activity in history, but opinion polls show up to 80 percent of Japanese want to cancel or postpone the Olympics.

A senior executive of a corporate supporter said: “I don’t think this proposal will influence the organizers very much because they are completely determined to starting July 24. But it makes more sense from our perspective to continue the Games when there are more people vaccinated, the weather is cooler and perhaps public opposition is lower. ”

The prevalence of Covid-19 and the slow launch of vaccines has disappointed the Japanese public. The total number of people who received either shot vaccination in Japan exceeds 14m, or 11 per cent of the population.

Sponsors were informed by Japan’s Olympic Committee in April that the crucial decision on whether to allow spectators to watch live events will not be made until the last possible moment, possibly June 24th.

Many of the companies are based on multiple marketing campaigns around ticket giveaways and venue promotions. Banks, brokerages, insurance companies and other major industry players plan to use the activities for corporate entertainment.

Two people who attended the meeting said that some companies decided that the money spent on Olympic sponsorship was effectively “useless” but that a continuation would allow them to get some amount if allowed. it attracts spectators and much more activity around the venues.

Proposals to delay the last minute until late September or October were made while preparations for the Games were put into their final 50 days.

A senior executive at a promoter said the suspension proposal has brought practical benefits. He said the company would not give any money to the project but would consider paying an additional sponsorship fee if the Olympics took place later in the year.

“If the Games started a few months ago, a much larger part of the country would be vaccinated, there would be less uncertainty and we would definitely consider putting more money as sponsors,” he said.

He added that there was an internal debate within his company about the dangers of linking its brand to an incident that Shigeru Omi, the doctor who led Covid’s response in Japan, said this week that “abnormal” to continue in the current environment.

Another head of a Japanese company supporting Tokyo’s call for the Games said: “Every effort should be made in Japan to keep the Olympics on schedule and the government should expedite the launch of vaccines. But plan B for a delay of two to three months must also be prepared. ”

The Tokyo 2020 organizing committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The business community will be divided about whether the country should host the Olympics. SoftBank founders Masayoshi Son and Hiroshi Mikitani, chief executive of ecommerce group Rakuten, are among the strongest rivals.

Even among the promoters, the companies were placed in a bad position with strong public opposition making it difficult for them to promote the activity.

Akio Toyoda, chief executive of worldwide Olympic sponsor Toyota, expressed disappointment on Thursday at the slow progress in control of Covid-19 Japan.

“This is a serious state of emergency. . . which requires crisis management, ”Toyoda said. “The reality is that we are still in a time of anxiety and dissatisfaction.”

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