The Grand Prix figure skating finals are currently under way in Tokyo for the first time in four years without the participation of Mao Asada, two-time champion in the past. Asada is under immense pressure to secure her place in the Vancouver Olympics.
However, plenty of others suffered the consequences of her slump, including TV Asahi, which had secured broadcasting rights to the Grand Prix series. According to a source, all posters promoting Asada had to be replaced by that of Miki Ando, and a TV program that was to cover Asada and her training for the finals had to be canceled.
Additionally, Asada had been elected in May as a “symbol athlete” by the Japanese Olympic Committee to cooperate in fund-raising activities. The seven corporations, including Asahi Beer and Nippon Life Insurance, that are JOC partners, have the right to use Asada in their TV commercials, in return for contributing up to 8 million yen per ad to the sports association.
If Asada fails to qualify for the Olympics, she’ll lose her appointment as symbol athlete, and thereby incur a substantial loss from the perspective of the Japan Skating Federation.
Even a Japanese restaurant manager in Vancouver, where Asada has visited a number of times in the past, expresses concern. The restaurant serves a sushi roll, popular among the locals, named “Mao Dynamite” and hopes that her performance in the Olympics will attract more customers.© Japan Today