Olympic Games

Poll in Japan shows huge anti-Olympic feeling as coronavirus numbers rise

A poll has shown scepticism about holding the Tokyo Olympics this summer due to the rising numbers of coronavirus infections.
A poll has shown scepticism about holding the Tokyo Olympics this summer due to the rising numbers of coronavirus infections. Charly TRIBALLEAU AFP/File

An opinion poll has revealed that more than 80 percent of people in Japan oppose the staging of the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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The survey was conducted after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's government added three more regions to the six already under a state of emergency as part of the battle to stem the spread of Covid-19.

The northern island of Hokkaido, where the Olympic marathon will be held, plus Hiroshima and Okayama in western Japan were placed on the list that includes Tokyo and Osaka.

Almost 700,000 people have been infected with the coronavirus since January 2020 with nearly 12,000 deaths.

The recent surge in cases has put pressure on the country's healthcare system, with medical professionals repeatedly warning about shortages and burnout.

Despite the worsening situation, organisers of the Olympic Games - which was postponed from last summer - insist the event can take place safely with heightened health regulations.

Fear

However, a poll by the Asahi Shimbun daily found 43 percent of respondents want the Games cancelled and 40 percent want a further postponement.

Those figures are up from 35 percent who backed cancellation in a survey by the paper a month ago, and 34 percent who wanted a further delay.

Only 14 percent think the Games should proceed as scheduled, down from 28 percent, according to the Asahi poll of 1,527 replies from 3,191 telephone calls.

If the Games go ahead, 59 percent of respondents said they want no spectators, with 33 percent backing lower fan numbers and three percent a regular-capacity Games.

For months, polling has found a majority in Japan oppose holding the Games this summer (23 July-8 August).

A separate poll by Kyodo News published on Sunday showed 59.7 percent back cancellation, though further postponement was not listed as an option.

Petition

Olympic organisers say regular testing of athletes and a ban on overseas fans will keep the Games safe.

But the Kyodo poll found 87.7 percent of respondents worry that an influx of athletes will bring futher problems.

The polls' findings come as Suga faces criticism over the roll-out of anti-coronavirus vaccines.

The Kyodo poll found 85 percent of respondents considered the rollout slow, with 71.5 percent unhappy with the government's handling of the pandemic.

Suga said he will decide on a possible further extension by evaluating the virus situation at the end of May.

Last Friday, organisers submitted a petition with more than 350,000 signatures demanding the cancellation of the Olympics to the Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike.

 The petition, which was launched at the beginning of the month, says money spent on the Games would be better used on people in financial need because of the pandemic.

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