Japan Inc. backs Olympics bid: Cho

by Minoru Matsutani

Staff Writer

Corporate Japan is an active promoter of sports and is completely behind the effort to secure the 2020 Olympic Games for Tokyo, Toyota Motor Corp. Honorary Chairman Fujio Cho said Wednesday.

“Many Japanese companies deeply understand the importance of sports,” Cho, who holds many posts outside Toyota, including president of the Japan Sports Association, said at a Tokyo hotel in an event organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan.

“If it is decided that the 2020 Games will be held in Japan, many companies would actively pursue sponsorship, leading not only to the success of those games but also to tremendous promotion of sports in Japan and the entire world.”

The relationship between sports and business is different in Japan than in the U.S. and Europe because not only do companies serve as team owners and sponsors, they also hire athletes as employees, he said.

Those athletes usually remain at their companies after retiring as athletes, and are valuable businesspeople, he said.

Cho was in charge of making a presentation on marketing when the International Olympic Committee Evaluation Commission visited Japan in March.

“Corporate Japan’s long, active involvement in sports was thoroughly explained to and understood by the IOC Evaluation Commission that visited in March. And I was quite happy to learn that this involvement was highly evaluated in an IOC report issued in June,” he said.

Cho drew a laugh from the audience when he noted that Nobusuke Kishi was prime minister when the IOC selected Tokyo to host the 1964 Olympics, and Kishi is the grandfather of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“Whether that has anything to do with it or not, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has shown his extreme zeal for Tokyo’s bid,” Cho said, noting he plans to be in Buenos Aires on Sept. 7, when the IOC announces the winner of the bid.

Istanbul and Madrid are also bidding to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.