News ID: 278193
Published: 0403 GMT December 15, 2020

A third of Japanese want Tokyo Games canceled: NHK poll

A third of Japanese want Tokyo Games canceled: NHK poll

A third of Japanese residents want the Tokyo Olympics to be scrapped amid fears that an influx of foreign arrivals may cause a further spike in COVID-19 cases, a poll by public broadcaster NHK showed on Tuesday.

The Japanese government and International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided in March to postpone the 2020 Olympics by a year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, with the global showpiece now slated to take place from July 23-Aug. 8, Reuters reported.

But as Japan grapples with a third wave of infections, the NHK poll, conducted from Dec. 11-13, showed 32 percent of respondents wanted the Summer Games to be canceled entirely.

Only 27 percent said they should go ahead as scheduled while 31 percent favored another delay.

According to an NHK poll in October, 40 percent said the Olympics should be held as planned with only 23 percent favoring cancelation and 25 percent preferring further postponement.

While Japan has avoided the vast number of infections and deaths seen in many other countries across the world, a recent resurgence in cases has forced the government to reintroduce steps such as requesting bars and restaurants to close early.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Monday suspended a much-criticized travel subsidy program to help contain mounting case numbers as his approval rating plummets over his handling of the pandemic.


Olympics symbol


Meanwhile, Tokyo's governor said she can see "no circumstances" under which the Olympics will be canceled.

In an interview with AFP, Yuriko Koike warned that the fate of the Tokyo Games would impact future Olympics, including the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing and the 2024 Summer Games in Paris.

She acknowledged that a majority of the Japanese public now opposes hosting the Games next year, but said she was convinced those concerns could be overcome.

"The Japanese public and Tokyo residents are looking at the current conditions," Koike said Tuesday.

"We are preparing for the future."

A further postponement to the Games has been ruled out by Olympic and Japanese officials, and Koike said "there are no circumstances" under which she could envisage the Olympics being canceled.

"Citizens of the world are seeing the Tokyo Games as a symbol that humanity will have defeated the coronavirus that will lead to the Beijing Winter Games and then the Paris Games after that," she said.

"Unless Tokyo takes full efforts against the coronavirus, then what will happen to Paris four years from now?" she said.

"I think we have to make Tokyo a success first, otherwise it will leave a serious impact on Paris."

Regarding the NHK poll, Koike believes those views would change.

"I am convinced that people will come to see hope again, once coronavirus measures are firmly implemented," she said.




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