November 16, 2021

Once a bonanza for sponsors, the Olympics are becoming a drag

FROM CUISINE to carmaking, the Japanese way is meticulous. Yet with just over a month to go, the Tokyo Olympics remain anything but. Thanks to covid-19, and Japan’s sluggish vaccinations, it is unclear whether the games, originally due to be held last summer, will let spectators in—if, that is, the event takes place at all. Organisers insist it will. This is nerve-jangling for those hoping to peak at the right moment: the athletes, of course, but also the games’ financial muscle, its corporate sponsors. Though no backers have pulled out, some are privately calling for another delay. Asahi Shimbun, the games’ official media partner, has called the decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to plough on “self-righteous”. What was supposed to be a golden opportunity to burnish brands has turned into a reputational minefield.

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