By Kiyoshi Takenaka
TOKYO (Reuters) – Tokyo 2020 organizers said on Thursday that all 68 domestic sponsors of the Summer Olympics have agreed in principle to extend their contracts for the delayed games as growing coronavirus infections in Japan overshadow the event.
The Tokyo Olympics were originally scheduled for 2020, but were postponed for a year due to the pandemic.
“Partner companies told me about the difficult situation they are in due to the pandemic,” Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori told a news conference.
“But they also told me that they definitely want the games to be held and that they are willing to offer as much support as they can.”
Tokyo 2020 organizers expect more than 22 billion yen ($ 212 million) in additional contributions from them, Mori said.
Domestic sponsors include companies hard hit by a sharp drop in travel demand in the midst of the pandemic, such as Japan Airlines Co Ltd, All Nippon Airways Co Ltd and travel agency JTB Corp., which plans to cut the workforce by 6,500.
“There must have been different debates within each company … I think they have decided to continue working with us to realize the historical significance of what may be an event once in a hundred years.”
In addition to tourism and transportation companies, the list of sponsors also includes Canon Inc, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (OTC 🙂 Corp. and other Japanese household names.
Recent Japanese newspaper polls show that two-thirds of the public believe the game should be postponed again or canceled altogether.
But Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has repeatedly said he is determined to hold the Olympics as proof that humanity has defeated the virus.
On Monday, national associations of medical professionals declared a state of medical emergency as the country’s medical system curls under the strain of the pandemic.
On Wednesday, Japan’s daily records of cases and deaths surpassed both their previous records, reaching 3,271 and 56, respectively, according to public television station NHK.
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