Security officers in Tokyo, Japan, last week. Picture: REUTERS/ISSEI KATO
Security officers in Tokyo, Japan, last week. Picture: REUTERS/ISSEI KATO

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, Fujitsu and NEC will skip the event given that organisers decided to hold the games without spectators, spokespeople for the technology giants said on Tuesday, a day after Toyota announced its top executive would not attend.

Japan’s pledge to hold a safe and secure games is under threat as Covid-19 cases jump in Tokyo and visiting athletes test positive for the virus. In a new 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 CEO Yuki Kusumi will miss the opening ceremony, although chair Kazuhiro Tsuga will attend in his role as vice-president of the organising committee, a spokesperson said.

Meiji and Asahi had already decided executives wouldn’t go, and bosses from Nippon Life Insurance and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group will also stay away, representatives said. 

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 had already decided not to broadcast commercials, a spokesperson for the tyre maker said.

NTT plans to run commercials featuring athletes, although it has yet make a final decision. Nomura Holdings and Mizuho Financial Group plan to continue airing ads, according to spokespeople. Eneos Holdings 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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