Sex Toy Ad Replaced After Broadcasters in U.S. and Japan Shut Down Curling Livestream

A Dutch website for sex toys changed and removed the majority of its ads for the 2022 curling Olympic Qualifying Tournament in the Netherlands after the U.S. and Japan shut down their livestream of the tournament over the company's logo.

The website's logo, EasyToys, was on the ice sheet, embedded in the hog line, which determines where the curlers must release the stone, and surrounded the curling rink.

Broadcasters in the United States and Japan decided that the logo reference wasn't an appropriate choice for the audience and cut the livestream covering the mixed doubles tournament.

"We hoped that our visibility would contribute to breaking the taboo that still rests in many countries on both sexuality and on our industry," EasyToys CEO Eric Idema said. "It is unfortunate that adjustments are now needed to get the sport to the fans."

EasyToys and the World Curling Federation ultimately came to an agreement with the change and removal, and the broadcast will resume as scheduled in the countries Saturday.

The company said "almost all" of the EasyToy logos will be removed for the tournament Saturday, but a new on-ice ad will say #equalityforall and the hog line will still say "EasyToys pink."

"During an Olympic qualifying tournament, it must of course be about the sport and not about the sponsor," Idema said in a statement emailed to the Associated Press. "Curling also deserves that, as a sport that is one of the few mixed sports that is way ahead of its time. In fact, just like us."

Olympic Trials, Curling, USA
A Dutch website for sex toys changed and removed the majority of its ads for the 2022 curling Olympic Qualifying Tournament in the Netherlands after the U.S. and Japan shut down their livestream. Above, Vicky Persinger and Chris Plys of the United States compete against a Russian team during the mixed-team curling qualifying tournament for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics at the Eleven Cities Hall in Leeuwarden, Netherlands, on December 9, 2021. Vincent Jannink / ANP / AFP/Getty Images

"With this slogan, we still want to start the conversation about sexual wellness and the importance of safe and pleasant sex for everyone," Idema said. "In many countries that conversation is already well underway, but the boycott confirms to us that we must continue to work on this topic normalize it for a wider audience."

The tournament began Sunday with mixed doubles, but American fans were unable to watch their local livestream due to what the World Curling Federation said was "an ongoing sponsor rights issue."

Still available was an international livestream where viewers could see the EasyToys safe-for-work logo on the ice and on ads surrounding the rink; the company's name was also embedded in the hog line that determines where curlers must release the stone.

The event in Leeuwarden, about 90 minutes north of Amsterdam, is a last-chance qualifier that will send two teams in mixed doubles and three each in men's and women's to Beijing in February. The United States pair of Chris Plys and Vicky Persinger qualified in mixed doubles, along with a duo from Australia; there is no U.S. team in the other divisions because the Americans had already qualified for the Winter Games.

"EasyToys and the World Curling Federation (WCF) entered a sponsorship contract for this event in good faith, based around the shared values of equality and respect for everyone," the international governing body said in a statement.

"The legal guidelines along with social norms that influence the broadcaster's policies in certain parts of the world, have proved to be a complicated barrier to showcasing this championship," the WCF said. "This action has been taken to avoid any further distractions to our athletes as they seek to achieve their dreams of reaching the pinnacle of our sport."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.