Business

Japanese companies were in trouble over the Olympics


In 1964, the world watched the Tokyo Olympics in the world’s first ever satellite broadcast using a huge antenna developed by the NEC. In: Tokyo Olympics Starting this July, NEC will re-introduce new technology.

The company’s face recognition system will be installed in stadiums to identify athletes and staff as the government promotes what it has promised to be “safe and secure” games despite the Covid-19 epidemic.

But there will probably be little progress from NEC or other Olympic sponsors of the technology used at this summer’s Games, whether it be Toyota self-driving cars or security robots developed by Secom.

As one of the sponsors gloomily admitted, silence is the best marketing strategy to navigate a toxic environment where any connection to the event can be Harmful to corporate brand,

Another CEO quietly declined to comment to FT a few months ago that he loved sports and wanted the Olympics to continue, saying that any harmless comments in any other context would be inappropriate in the face of public opposition. games:

As another sign of how dangerous the current situation is, the NEC was suddenly embroiled in a scandal that reveals the extent to which the Olympics have raised bets for both the Japanese apony government and business.

From Friday, Takuya Hirai, the country Minister of Digital Affairs, there was talk of Japanese TV shows leak recording acquired the Asahi newspaper. In it, he hears his subordinates urging him to use “threats” against the NEC president. In particular, one comment of the April online conference stands out. “If they complain a lot about this Olympics, we will leave them out altogether.”

At the heart of the incident is a $ 66 million deal that appears to have nothing to do with sponsorship of the Olympics, signed by a government “consortium” including the NEC to develop a smartphone app to track the health of other Games-related staff. In a decision to ban foreign audiences, the government has asked to cancel its contract with NEC.

Japan Aponia Digital Minister Takuya Hirai defends use of his language as a reflection of “strong determination” to cut spending © Kyodo Reuters

Hiray then admitted that his comments were inappropriate, but denied that they were made directly against the NEC. He also defended the use of his language as a reflection of his “strong determination” to cut spending. The NEC declined to comment, confirming that it had accepted the contract amendment.

The case may be a ministerial gaffe, but for NEC այլ 46 other Japanese companies, which paid a total of $ 3 billion to return the Games, serious questions need to be asked about whether the connection to the Olympics is worth it. money.

The games will be scheduled mostly sponsored It is a sporting event in history, but even before it was postponed due to the epidemic, some executives secretly expressed doubts about the return on their investments.

Although the decision to participate in the national project seemed low risk at first, the companies accepted non-exclusivity contracts, creating a situation where direct competitors such as Japan Airlines and ANA Holdings were sponsors.

When Tokyo last hosted the Games in 1964, official և exclusive sponsorships had not yet been established և companies’s companies in the post-aponia period seemed almost natural to recover from defeat. But that same patriotic spirit will no longer be enough to justify their patronage this year.

To be sure that the mood of the games can change as the vaccination program gains momentum, և companies can even get the marketing benefits they hoped for, albeit belatedly.

But even if they manage to navigate these Games safely, another minefield is ahead of World Olympic Games sponsors such as Toyota և Panasonic. The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics are just around the corner, and companies are likely to do so to come under pressure from activists take a stand against Chinese human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

For a long time, Japanese companies simply considered sport to be something they needed to support, but it would be more difficult as sponsorship of the Olympics became even more politically contentious.

kana.inagaki@ft.com:



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