Half of Japan believes the Olympics will take place despite opposition, polls show

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Half of the Japanese public believe the 2020 Olympics will take place this summer, a poll by Yomiuri newspaper on Monday showed, although most people are against hosting the Games during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Olympics have already been postponed for a year amid concerns about how organizers can protect volunteers, athletes, officials and the Japanese public when they begin on July 23 after a fourth wave of infections.

Opposition lawmakers on Monday criticized Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and cabinet ministers in parliament for the decision to move the event forward after several polls showed the public was not in favor.

Senior government officials have repeatedly said that the government will continue to work on coronavirus measures for “safe” gaming and that a decision on domestic viewers will be made this month.

“I think this is the premise of conducting (Olympiads),” Suga told lawmakers: “To take infection control measures for athletes and officials of the Games so that athletes from around the world can safely participate and have life and health protect our people.

In a Yomiuri poll conducted June 4-6, 50% of respondents said the Games would take place this summer; 26% said they would take place without an audience. 48% said the event would be canceled.

However, most respondents in the same survey said virus measures for athletes and participants were inadequate, while public support for the Suga government was at its lowest at 37%.

Foreign spectators are already banned from the Olympics and Japanese could also be kept away from what the organizers promise of a hygienic “bubble” event to minimize the risk of contagion.

Visitors try to take photos in front of the Olympic Rings Monument in front of the Japan Olympic Committee (JOC) headquarters near the National Stadium, the main stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics which is due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) 2021) Outbreak in Tokyo, Japan, May 30, 2021. REUTERS / Issei Kato

HEALTH MORE IMPORTANT THAN EXCITEMENT

Local authorities have reduced Olympic torch relay events and Olympic athlete host cities have changed their minds.

Saitama Prefecture decided to abandon its plan to install two public viewing sites, Saitama Governor Motohiro Ono said on Monday. Ono said infection prevention is more important than excitement.

Japan Olympic Committee board member Kaori Yamaguchi, a judo bronze medalist at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, contributed to resentment in Japan when she said on Friday that her nation was “cornered” and accused of promoting the Games the JOC to trample the public opinion. Continue reading

“What and for whom will these Olympics be? The games have already lost their importance and are only held for their own sake. I think we have already missed the opportunity to cancel,” she wrote in an opinion piece for the Kyodo news agency.

About 3,500 of over 40,000 “city volunteers” recruited by regional governments for the Olympic Games have withdrawn, NHK reported. According to the organizers, this comes to 10,000 volunteers who had already withdrawn. Continue reading

One of the top trending topics on Twitter in Japan on Monday was the news from Tokyo police investigating a fatality on the city’s subway in which a senior JOC official was involved, according to media reports.

The private broadcaster Nippon Television, citing city police sources, identified the person as someone who worked in the accounting department of the JOC and said his death would be treated as a suspected suicide.

The police said they were investigating but did not provide any information. A JOC representative said the committee was collecting information but did not provide details.

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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