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IOC, Japan press ahead with Tokyo Games

Japan says Olympics a go

Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency last week for Tokyo and surrounding areas. Amid the surging virus, he again promised the postponed Tokyo Olympics would be “safe and secure” and tried to disconnect the state of emergency from the fate of the games.

But opposition to the Olympics is growing with calls mounting for a cancellation. The International Olympic Committee and local organizers have already said another postponement is impossible, leaving cancellation — or opening on July 23 — as the only options.

Two polls published in the last few days by the Japanese news agency Kyodo and Japanese broadcaster TBS show that just over 80% want the Olympics cancelled or postponed, or believe they will not take place. The negative responses are up 15 to 20 percentage points from polls published just last month.

“The Japanese public are already more and more inclined to oppose the hosting of the Olympics this summer, and the state of emergency reinforces the perception that it is a lost cause,” Koichi Nakano, who teaches politics at Tokyo’s Sophia University, said in an email to The Associated Press.

As a fearful public asks to call off the Tokyo Games, it faces the reality of Olympic finances, geopolitics, and face-saving.

Japanese taxpayers have sunk billions into the Olympics, the IOC lives off the television money and has seen its income stalled by the postponement, and China is waiting in the wings to hold the Beijing Winter Games in 13 months if Japan stumbles.

“Japan’s standing in Asia and in the world matters a great deal, particularly in view of its rivalry with China,“ Nakano said. “It would be a nightmare for them (Japan’s political leadership) if Japan fails to be the host of the first ‘post-COVID’ Olympics and the title goes to China.”

Nakano said the government wanted to avoid the emergency order, which could be extended beyond Feb. 7 and to other parts of the country. This could further embolden skeptics and imperil the games.

Organizers have promised strict “anti-virus” measures to pull off the Olympics.



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