Dec 02, 2011 at 03:59 PM
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Could Japan's 2020 Olympics Bid Be Going Up In Smoke (Sponsorship)?

So says the Washington Times, which writes that Japan Tobacco's sponsorship of World Cup Volleyball has the potential to derail the country's chances of landing the 2020 Olympics. A host of world organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for Japan Tobacco, the world’s third-largest cigarette maker, to end its sponsorship.

Despite increased regulation against tobacco advertising throughout the world, sponsorships by tobacco companies are still common throughout Asia, particularly of music tours, concerts and festivals. Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson have both run into sponsorship controversies in recent years as a result.

Japan Tobacco defended the WC Volleyball deal in a statement to the paper.

“Nowhere in our corporate sponsorship of volleyball games do we advertise our cigarette brands or products,” the company said in an email to the Washington Times.

Dr. Manabu Sakuta, chairman of the board of directors of the Japan Society for Tobacco Control, says the sponsorship could be a problem for Japan's 2020 Olympic bid.

"Smoking is not allowed near the Olympic stadiums. What they are doing at the World Cup volleyball, putting JT mark on the shoulder of players or around the floor, is absolutely forbidden in the Olympics," Sakuta said. "This is not good for Japan’s hope to host the Olympics."