ECONOMY

More Companies Pull Out of Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony

More Japanese companies have decided against sending executives to Friday’s opening ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics as concerns about holding the games during the pandemic grow.

Senior officials from Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp., Fujitsu Ltd. and NEC Corp. will skip the event given that organizers decided to hold the games without spectators, spokespeople for the technology giants said Tuesday, a day after Toyota Motor Corp. announced its top executive wouldn’t attend.

Japan’s pledge to hold a safe and secure games is coming under threat as Covid-19 cases jump in Tokyo and visiting athletes test positive for the virus. In a fresh public relations setback, Japanese musician Keigo Oyamada, known as Cornelius, quit the team creating the opening ceremony after acknowledging he bullied school classmates with disabilities years ago.

The games will be the first in modern history to be held without spectators, after Tokyo entered another state of emergency that will run throughout the tournament.

Panasonic Corp. Chief Executive Officer Yuki Kusumi will miss the opening ceremony, although Chairman Kazuhiro Tsuga will attend in his role as vice president of the organizing committee, a spokesperson said.

Meiji Holdings Co. and Asahi Group Holdings Ltd. had already decided executives wouldn’t go, and bosses from Nippon Life Insurance Co. and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. will also stay away, representatives said. Toyota President Akio Toyoda will miss the event, the automaker said Monday.

Japanese public support for the Olympics is mixed at best, raising questions over the merits of using the competition for marketing.

Toyota won’t air local television advertisements during the games, despite being among the global sponsors. Bridgestone Corp. had already decided not to broadcast commercials, a spokesman for the tiremaker said.

NTT plans to run commercials featuring athletes, although it has yet make a final decision. Nomura Holdings Inc. and Mizuho Financial Group Inc. plan to continue airing ads, according to spokespeople. Eneos Holdings Inc. is seeking to do the same, although it may change its ad policy depending on the situation, a representative for the petroleum refiner said.

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