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Toyota pulls Olympics commercials

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Tokyo Olympics

A leading sponsor of the Tokyo Olympics is seeking to distance itself from the increasingly controversial event.

Toyota Motor Corp. has decided not to air any Olympics television commercials in Japan, despite being a top-tier sponsor.

The automaker had already prepared a television commercial, which features athletes who are taking part in the Games. But the ad won’t see the light of day.

The automaker has also confirmed its President won’t be attending this week’s opening ceremony.

Toyota says it will “fully support the athletes and contribute to the games by providing vehicles and through other means”.

A spokesperson for the automaker told Japan’s daily Yomiuri newspaper that “the Olympics is becoming an event that has not gained the public’s understanding”.

Taka Masaya, a spokesman for the Tokyo Olympics acknowledges that there is “a mixed public sentiment towards the games”.

“There must be a decision by each company in terms of how they should be able to convey their messages to the public audiences from a corporate perspective,” Masaya told a press conference on Monday.

Safe and secure?

Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has repeatedly promised that the Olympic Games will be a “safe and secure” event.

But with four days until the opening ceremony, a new poll shows two-thirds of people in Japan don’t believe him.

In a poll published by the Asahi newspaper, 68 per cent of respondents said they don’t believe the country can host a safe and secure games.

55 per cent of respondents also say they are opposed to the Games going ahead.

Tokyo was recently placed under its fourth state of emergency, and new cases in the host city have exceeded 1,000 for five consecutive days.

Two footballers from South Africa on the weekend became the first athletes to test positive for COVID-19 in the athletes village.

Organisers have so far reported 58 infections related to the Games.

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Sport

Belarusian sprinter taken to airport to leave Tokyo

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Belarusian athlete is fearing for her safety after criticising her coaches and being ordered to return home early

The 24-year-old sought police protection when arriving at an airport terminal in Japan so she would not have to board the flight back to Belarus.

She was due to compete in the Women’s 200-metre event this week but had complained online about being forced into another race at short notice.

Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya is escorted by police officers at Haneda international airport in Tokyo, Japan August 1, 2021. REUTERS/Issei Kato

She told the International Olympic Committee that she was “put under pressure to compete” and has asked for urgent assistance.

The IOC says it is seeking clarification from Belarusian officials who earlier said she was removed due to her poor “emotional and physical condition”.

State media has criticised the athlete saying she lacks “team spirit” whilst several other countries including the Czech Republic and Poland have offered her refuge.

It comes as the nation’s leaders cracked down on anti-government protestors, with some national-level athletes stripped of funding, cut from national teams and arrested.

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Politics v sport – F1 drivers speak out against anti-gay laws

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Formula 1 drivers Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have spoken out against Hungary’s new anti-LGBTQ+ law

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – OCTOBER 27: Race winner Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP and second placed Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Ferrari celebrate on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Mexico at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on October 27, 2019 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Hamilton, a seven-time world champion and eight-time winner of the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest, posted in support of the country’s LGBTQ+ community ahead of this year’s edition of the race.

https://twitter.com/RacingPrideHQ/status/1420694541980536832

He wrote: “To all in this beautiful country Hungary. Ahead of the Grand Prix this weekend, I want to share my support for those affected by the governments’ anti-LGBTQ+ law. It is unacceptable, cowardly and misguiding for those in power suggest such a law.

“Everyone deserves to have the freedom to be themselves, no matter who they love or how they identify. I urge the people of Hungary to vote in the upcoming referendum to protect the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, they need our support more than ever.

“Please show love for those around you because Love will always win. Sending positivity. #lgbtq”

Following suit, Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel, arrived at the Budapest paddock with a rainbow strip on his trainers.

https://twitter.com/sebvettelnews/status/1420744360585437186

“Everybody’s free to do what they want and exactly that I guess is the point,” Vettel said. “So I find it embarrassing for a country that is in the European Union having to vote or having some laws like this as part of their constitution, whatever,” Vettel said.

“I just think we’ve had so many opportunities to learn in the past and I can’t understand why you’re struggling to see everybody should be free to do what they like, love who they like and it’s along the lines of ‘live and let live’.

“So it’s obviously not for us to make the law, that’s not our role, but I think just to express the support for obviously those who are affected by it.”

Politics vs sport

The law has become a controversial issue within sport.

The country is holding a referendum on a law which includes a ban on the depiction or promotion of homosexuality and gender change to under-18s.

Last month, UEFA refused a request from Munich’s Mayor for a stadium to be lit in rainbow colours ahead of Germany’s Euro 2020 clash against Hungary.


UEFA has refused a request from Munich’s Mayor for a stadium to be lit in rainbow colours ahead of Germany’s Euro 2020 clash against Hungary.

https://fast.wistia.net/embed/iframe/ppjxiaae4v?dnt=1#?secret=vmIxpBbpnw

UEFA says the decision was consistent with being a “politically and religiously neutral organisation”.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said Hungary will hold a referendum on the issue by early 2022 at the latest.

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Manchester United cans friendly match vs Preston

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Manchester United has been forced to cancel their pre-season friendly with Preston North End after a COVID-19 outbreak within the first-team squad.

The Red Devils identified a small number of suspected live cases following the latest round of testing at the club.

A statement issued by United on Thursday said: “Maintaining Covid security is a priority for us.

“Following routine testing of the first team training group today, we have identified a small number of suspected positive cases. This has led to those people isolating, pending further tests.

The statement continues: “As a precautionary measure based on covid protocols, we have taken the difficult decision that we will not now be able to play the friendly match against Preston North End this Saturday.

“We regret the disruption to Preston and disappointment caused to fans. Any Manchester United fans who have purchased tickets for the game will be automatically refunded.

“At this stage, we do not expect further disruption around our forthcoming matches, but we will continue to follow Premier League protocols in this regard.”

The decision to cancel the game with Preston leaves Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with just one more warm-up fixture before the start of the Premier League campaign on August 14.

The cases are a mixture of players and staff, who tested positive with lateral flow tests but will need to take PCR tests to confirm the result.

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  • Anthony Lucas is reporter, presenter and social media producer with ticker News. Anthony holds a Bachelor of Professional Communication, with a major in Journalism from RMIT University as well as a Diploma of Arts and Entertainment journalism from Collarts. He’s previously worked for 9 News, ONE FM Radio and Southern Cross Austerio’s Hit Radio Network. 

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