National and international critics against Japan Tobacco’s sponsorship of World Cup volleyball may lead to Japan losing its bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.
Japan Tobacco, the third largest cigarette maker in the world, is sponsoring the World Cup, a month long competition which ends on Sunday. It features players from nations, like the United States, which forbid tobacco advertising at sporting events.
Japan Tobacco’s involvement in the competition is being criticized, among others, by a United Nations agency and an international group of non-governmental organizations. A group of 2,500 doctors in Japan says even that the matter could hurt Japan’s efforts to organize the 2020 Olympic Games.
Japan Tobacco is replying that it respects the Japanese law and underlines that it is promoting its beverage division, not the tobacco products.
The World Health Organization’s Tobacco Free Initiative said it plans to contact the Federation of International Volleyball “to convey our disappointment at their actions and to remind them that in 2002 they publicly committed to have a tobacco-free sport.”