TOKYO -- The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said on Thursday it will cancel the Tokyo Motor Show scheduled for fall due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, even as organizers of the Summer Olympics insist that the event will go ahead.
The announcement comes amid a spike in COVID-19 infections in Tokyo, Osaka and other major metropolitan areas, and just days before the Japanese government is expected to declare a third state of emergency to contain the spread of the virus.
Akio Toyoda, chairman of JAMA and president of Toyota Motor, told reporters that the association chose to cancel the trade show rather than holding it online. "We wanted to stick to a real event," Toyoda said.
Given the surge in COVID infections, however, JAMA determined it would be impossible to hold such a large event safely.
The motor show takes place every other year. The previous event, held in 2019, drew 192 companies and a total of 1.3 million visitors. It was the first time in 12 years that the number of visitors topped 1 million.
Other major motor shows have also been canceled or postponed due to the pandemic. The North American International Auto Show, one of the five biggest motor shows in the world, has been canceled for a second straight year, as has the Geneva International Motor Show, which normally takes place every spring in Switzerland.
Some shows in China, where the spread of the virus is relatively contained, have gone ahead. The Beijing Motor Show was held in September 2020 after being postponed for five months, and this year's Shanghai Motor Show began on April 19.
Organizers of the Tokyo Olympics, meanwhile, insist the event -- due to start in late July -- will take place but are still weighing restrictions on domestic spectators. International spectators will be barred. Last week, a senior member of Japan's ruling LDP party said cancelation was "an option."
Additional reporting by Rurika Imahashi in Tokyo