An advertisement showing a man eating a bat sandwich is being investigated by Australia’s advertising watchdog.
The advert from outdoor equipment firm Boating Camping Fishing store (BCF) has been viewed more than 250,000 times on YouTube.
In it, a man jokes that the pandemic was caused by someone eating a bat.
While early cases emerged from a live animal market in Wuhan, China, there has been no definitive proof it was how the virus originated and spread.
BCF spokesperson had told the Australian media that the light-hearted marketing campaign recognises that many Australians will be staying home this summer and encourages them to explore their own backyard.
“Of course we understand the severity of the pandemic and spread of Covid-19 but it is clear that this ad is framed in the same spirit.”
The ad could further strain the already deteriorated relations between Australia and China.
Australia backed a global inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus in April, which a top Chinese diplomat alleged effectively singled out China.
Since then, Australian imports have been under the spotlight while Chinese students and tourists were warned against travelling to Australia citing fears of racism.
In November, China imposed taxes on Australian wine of up to 212%, saying these were temporary anti-dumping measures to stop subsidised imports of Australian wine.