Tokyo Olympics’ economic benefit ‘almost zero’ but sponsors find relief in Games’ afterglow

Tokyo Olympics symbols. Photo: Kyodo. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

TOKYO, Aug 10, 2021, The Mainichi. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics decision to go largely spectatorless made the economic benefit of the staging of the Games “almost zero,” according to Shinichiro Kobayashi, a senior researcher at Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting Co, The Mainichi reported.

Many firms with sponsorship deals downsized their promotional activities, and it appears the expected PR effect was not achieved. But there are also numerous companies that feel the tide of public opinion, which was against them in the run-up to the Games, turned during the tournament. Connected parties are accordingly breathing a sigh of relief.

Top-level sponsor Toyota Motor Corp. pulled its TV commercials relating to the Olympics. Many other companies similarly reduced their promotional activities amid skepticism toward holding the Games.

But a senior employee at one banking firm that sponsored the Games told the Mainichi Shimbun: “Before the tournament started there were many negative opinions about it, and we wondered if there was any point in paying all the money to be a sponsor, but now all of Japan is in a state of excitement and the impression turned out well.”

A lot of sponsors have sensed a change in attitude toward the Games. Before the opening ceremony, Asahi Breweries Ltd. had come in for harsh criticism over the possibility of providing alcohol at the Games’ venues, and forewent the option of doing so. Although there was a possibility that being a sponsor would compromise the company’s image, sales of beer cans with Olympic designs rose 30% compared to the year before during the period around the start of the Games. A company official said, “I think there’s a variety of opinions, but we’re pleased we could support the athletes and others, and we’re happy to have seen a successful end to the Olympics.”

Other companies also witnessed a positive effect from the games. The website of food firm Ajinomoto Co., which provides introductions for Olympic athletes with whom it has sponsorship deals, reportedly saw a 30% jump in visits during the Games. Meanwhile, the cardboard beds at the Athletes’ Village gained attention abroad via social media, and Airweave Inc., which supplied the beds’ mattresses and other items, said it expected the publicity would “spur expansion abroad.”

Nevertheless, the decision to make the Games spectatorless just before they began, and the persistent complications around the opening ceremony meant that some views were still hard to shift. A senior employee at a banking firm said: “I’m keeping my mouth shut, but there are things I’d like to say to the organizers.”

(Japanese original by Takayuki Hakamada, Ayane Matsuyama, Mio Ikeda, Tokyo Business News Department)

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