Skipping the Olympics is ‘not an option’ for many advertisers.

The Olympics have long been an almost ideal forum for companies promoting themselves, with plenty of opportunities to nestle ads among the pageantry and the feel-good stories about athletes overcoming adversity.

But now, as 11,000 competitors from more than 200 countries convene in Tokyo while the coronavirus pandemic lingers, Olympic advertisers are worried about the more than $1 billion they have spent to run ads on NBC and its Peacock streaming platform.

Calls to cancel the more than $15.4 billion extravaganza have intensified as more athletes test positive for Covid-19. The event is also deeply unpopular with Japanese citizens and many public health experts, who fear it will become a superspreader

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