COVID-19 crushes Asahi’s Olympics sponsorship plans

Asahi Breweries’ Olympics sponsorship has been dealt another blow with the announcement that alcohol sales have been banned at bars and restaurants in Tokyo.

Rising cases of the Delta strain of COVID-19 have led Japan’s prime minister Yoshihide Suga to declare a state of emergency in the capital.

Restaurants and bars are no longer allowed to serve alcohol and must close by 8pm. The declaration follows the president of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee, Seiko Hashimoto, announcing earlier this week that sales of alcohol at Olympic venues had been banned ensure the Games were “safe and secure” during COVID-19. The move is in response to fears that alcohol consumption could make spectators more likely to speak loudly and ignore social distancing rules.

Asahi Breweries has endorsed the ban. “We totally understand the decision by the committee,” said Takayuki Tanaka, a company spokesman. “We will keep supporting the Games’ success.”

The 14 top-tier global sponsors – which include Coca-Cola and Visa – pay more than $1 billion every four years to be associated with the Games. Additionally, 68 domestic sponsors – such as Asahi beer and Asics sneakers – have given more than $3.3 billion to the Tokyo Games, triple the previous record for an Olympics.

However, most sponsors have been scaling back marketing plans in the face of widespread public opposition to the event proceeding.

Asahi Super Dry is the official beer for the Games and Asahi kicked off its Tokyo Olympics sponsorship in May with new-look packaging for the beer in Japan. The new cans feature the Tokyo 2020 logo and Super Dry’s status as the games’ official beer.

When the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee announced it had selected Asahi Breweries to become an official Tokyo 2020 Gold Partner, Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori said: “It gives me great pleasure to announce that Tokyo 2020 has concluded a contract with Asahi Breweries, and to welcome the company as a Gold Partner. Asahi Breweries has an excellent slogan, which translates roughly as “Let’s share the emotion,” and this slogan very much echoes the efforts of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee to support athletes in their endeavours and to provide a stage where that emotion can be shared. During the Games, the whole of Japan will be raising their glasses and cheering on the athletes, and we are looking forward to working closely with Asahi Breweries to share the emotion of the Tokyo 2020 Games.”

Asahi Breweries President Akiyoshi Koji added: “We are most honoured by becoming the Tokyo 2020 Gold Partner (Beer & Wine) and being able to support the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the Japanese national team. Asahi Breweries has been supporting Japan with courage and energy as a JOC Gold Partner. As becoming the Tokyo 2020 Gold Partner (Beer & Wine), we are greatly looking forward to support not just the Japanese national team, but also every single athlete competing in the Games, allowing them to perform beyond their limits, and convey the message of the magnificence of having hopes and dreams to the children who bear the future.”

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