The Tokyo Olympics image has been dealt a further blow, with a majority of people in Japan feeling that the Games should either be postponed or cancelled altogether. As per a poll published on Monday, more than 80 percent of people in the host country oppose hosting the coronavirus-postponed Olympics this year.
The Games are less than 10 weeks away and the latest survey was conducted after Japan expanded a coronavirus state of emergency last Friday. The country is battling a fourth wave of infections and the rise in cases has stretched its healthcare system.
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The weekend survey was conducted by the Asahi Shimbun daily. It revealed that 43 percent of respondents want the Games cancelled, and 40 per cent want a further postponement. A mere 14 percent support holding the Games as scheduled. If the Games are staged -- which is what the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Japanese government have been saying, 59 per cent of respondents said they want no spectators.
There has been a significant rise in the number of critics and opposition for the Olympics over the past month. Last month, the daily had conducted a survey in which 35 percent backed cancellation and 34 percent wanted a further delay. In fact, polling in the past few months has found that a majority in Japan oppose it, putting a tremendous amount of pressure on the government to act as per popular demand.
In a separate poll -- by Kyodo News published on Sunday -- 59.7 percent backed cancellation. Postponement was not listed as an option in that survey.
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Meanwhile, the organisers, in order to drum up support, have been presenting their case. They have highlighted the tough anti-virus measures that would be taken, including regular testing of athletes and a ban on overseas fans. The organisers and the IOC are confident that the measures will keep the Games safe.
But the Kyodo poll found 87.7 per cent of respondents worry that an influx of athletes and staff members from abroad may spread the virus.
Japan has seen a smaller virus outbreak than many countries, with fewer than 11,500 deaths so far. But the government has come under pressure for a comparatively slow vaccine rollout.
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