A new poll shows that almost 60% of Japanese want to cancel the already delayed Tokyo Games.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Monday that he had never “put the Olympics first,” as an opinion poll showed that nearly 60 percent of Japanese want the Olympics to be canceled less than three months before starting.
Japan yes extended the state of emergency in Tokyo until the end of May and is struggling to contain an increase in COVID-19 cases, raising more questions about whether the Games should take place. Its vaccination rate is the lowest among rich nations.
International Olympic officials, Tokyo planners and Suga himself have insisted that the $ 15.4 billion event will go ahead in a “safe” way. Overseas spectators have been banned and planners published an elaborate rulebook last month aimed at preventing coronavirus infections.
But a public opinion poll, conducted May 7-9 by the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, showed that 59% wanted to cancel the Games compared to only 39% who said they had to continue. There was no option to postpone the event, which has already been delayed by a year.
Another poll conducted over the weekend by TBS News found that 65% wanted to cancel or postpone the Games again, with 37% voting to end the event and 28% calling for another delay.
More than 300,000 people have signed a petition to cancel the Games in about five days since they were launched.
Nearly 100 “anti-Olympic” protesters marched around Tokyo’s national stadium on Sunday to show their opposition to the event while a test was held inside.
Protesters unleashed their anger against Tokyo and IOC organizers for pushing the games forward, even as COVID-19 cases escalate.
“I was surprised that the number of people who are against the Olympics has increased so much,” Kumiko Suto, an employee of the publishing company at the Associated Press, said. “But I guess that reflects the seriousness of the coronavirus situation. And yet the Olympics are unstoppable. I’m speechless. “
Asked at a parliamentary committee meeting whether the Games would continue even if coronavirus cases continued to rise, Suga replied: “I have never put the Olympics in the first place.”
“My priority has been to protect the lives and health of the Japanese people. We must first prevent the spread of the virus, “he added
He reiterated that the IOC has the final say on the fate of the Games and that the role of the government is to take steps to ensure that the event can be held safely.
The TBS survey found that Suga’s public approval rating was 40 percent, close to the record lows set earlier this year.
Top Olympic official John Coates said on Saturday that while Japanese sentiment about the Games “was a concern”, he could not foresee any scenario in which sporting extravagance would not go ahead.
But on Sunday, Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka said that while she has waited a lifetime to participate in the Olympics, the risks of holding the Tokyo Games should be discussed carefully.
The Games will open on July 23 and continue until August 8.