The Tokyo motor show has been cancelled for the first time since the inaugural event in 1954, due to the ongoing pandemic.
Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda, who also serves as chairman of event organiser the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, is quoted by Automotive News Europe as telling reporters: "We've concluded that it will be difficult to offer our main programs where many visitors get to experience attractive features of mobility in a safe environment."
The biennial event - typically one of the largest of its kind globally - has until now always gone ahead as scheduled. However, a surge in Covid-19 infections in Japan is causing concern, with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said to be considering declaring a state of emergency in cities including Tokyo and Osaka.
The Tokyo motor show's cancellation comes just three months before Japan is set to host the Olympics, which have already been pushed back by a year.
When it returns in 2022 or 2023, the Tokyo motor show will be rebranded as a 'mobility show' to reflect the increasingly diverse field of transportation solutions on offer from Japanese manufacturers.
"The next time, we would like to hold an improved event to be called Tokyo Mobility Show," Toyoda said. "We would like to ask for your continued support."
A virtual version of the 2021 event, comparable to the 2020 Geneva motor show, was never on the cards, according to Toyoda. He explained: "The Tokyo auto show showcases motorbikes, minicars, large vehicles [and] passenger cars, as well as mobility vehicles of other industries.
"As such, we would like to prioritise having visitors experience these vehicles in the real world, and we would rather hold the event in the real world, not virtually. So we've decided to cancel the event."