sponsors worried about their image

The opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics (Olympics) seems to have become the last place to display for partner companies. The electronics giant Panasonic announced Tuesday, July 20, the absence of its leaders at the event scheduled for July 23. Only its president Kazuhiro Tsuga will make the trip, in his capacity as vice-president of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee.

Panasonic’s announcement followed those of automaker Toyota, food giant Ajinomoto and brewer Asahi Beer. Even Masakazu Tokura, president of the powerful Keidanren employers’ confederation, chose, “As a citizen”, to stay at home and “Watch the event with the family on television”.

This sulking of the Japanese business world reflects a certain embarrassment regarding an event that, today, a majority of Japanese do not want, which is accompanied by a worsening of the Covid-19 pandemic and which turns into a financial fiasco as in terms of images for its partners.

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Souvenir from 1964

These Olympics had however been presented to economic circles, from the selection of Tokyo in 2013, as the symbol of the reconstruction of Japan after the earthquake, the tsunami and the nuclear disaster of 2011. The Games were to mark the entry into a new era. marked by the return of the Archipelago on the world stage thanks to the activism of the former Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe (2012-2020) – also absent from the opening ceremony – and his policy of economic recovery called ” Abenomics ”, all symbolically crowned with the rise to the imperial throne, in 2019, of a new sovereign, Naruhito.

Carried by this prospect, intoxicated by the memory of the success of the 1964 games and spurred on by the influential and omnipotent advertising agency Dentsu, exclusive promotional partner of the Olympic Games, which broke with the tradition of having only one company per sector as sponsors, 70 Japanese companies have disbursed 2.5 billion euros to support them, three times more than in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. They also agreed to add 250 million euros to finance the postponement of a year of the event, decided in March 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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The pandemic having only worsened due, in particular, to a calamitous management of the Japanese government, the Games have become an object of resentment, even hostility, for the Japanese. The competitions begin in full resurgence of cases – 4,943 on July 21, against 3,191 a week earlier – despite the establishment of a “state of emergency” in the most affected departments, including Tokyo.

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