Advertisers proceed — cautiously — around the Olympics

(Credit: Getty Images)
(Credit: Getty Images)

Dropping the Olympics may not be an option for many.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics have kicked off, albeit, a year late — and calls to cancel have intensified as COVID-19 cases climb in Japan. 

The Olympic committee has already established rules for dealing with infected athletes. Those who test positive must isolate from other athletes and will be excluded from participating in the games. Athletes that come into close contact with an infected person must provide two negative test results to be eligible to compete. 

Growing discontent around the Games is proving to be tricky ground for advertisers on the ground. In the U.S. brands have collectively spent more than $1 billion to run ads on NBC and its streaming platform Peacock. 

Toyota Motors, for instance, has dropped local sponsorships in Japan, though will continue to advertise in the states. Toyota’s chief executive, Akio Toyoda, grandson of the company’s founder, skipped the opening ceremony, as did Panasonic’s chief executive. 

With so much money at stake, and the threat of a public health crisis looming, which way will advertisers lean when it comes to pulling out of the games? 

Campaign US readers seem split on the issue. But at this point, most advertisers seem to think skipping the Games “is not an option.” 


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