More than 80% of Japanese oppose Olympics this summer: Poll

More than 80% of Japanese oppose Olympics this summer: Poll

FILE PHOTO: Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Test Event - Athletics
General view during the men's 3000m steeplechase final at a Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games test event on May 9, 2021. (File photo: Reuters/Issei Kato)

TOKYO: More than 80 per cent of Japanese oppose hosting the coronavirus-postponed Olympics this year, a new poll published on Monday (May 17) showed, with just under 10 weeks until the Tokyo Games.

The latest survey comes after Japan expanded a COVID-19 state of emergency on Friday as the nation battles a fourth wave of virus infections.

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

The weekend survey by the Asahi Shimbun daily found that 43 per cent of respondents want the Games cancelled, and 40 per cent want a further postponement.

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

Only 14 per cent support holding the Games this summer as scheduled, down from 28 per cent, according to the poll of 1,527 replies from 3,191 telephone calls.

If the Games do go ahead, 59 per cent of respondents said they want no spectators, with 33 per cent backing lower fan numbers and 3 per cent a regular capacity Games.

For months, polling has found that a majority in Japan oppose holding the Games this summer.

READ: Japan expands COVID-19 emergency as 350,000 sign petition to cancel Tokyo Olympics

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

Olympic organisers say tough anti-virus measures, including regular testing of athletes and a ban on overseas fans, will keep the Games safe.

But the Kyodo poll found that 87.7 per cent of respondents worry that an influx of athletes and staff members from abroad may spread the virus.

Asked about the polls, government spokesman Katsunobu Kato said the government would "make efforts so that the Japanese people understand the Tokyo Games will be held in a safe and secure manner".

"We need to give explanations on details of the concrete (coronavirus) measures," he said, insisting that the Games would not put further pressure on medical services.

Japan has seen a smaller COVID-19 outbreak than many countries, with fewer than 11,500 deaths so far. But the government has come under pressure for a comparatively slow vaccine roll-out.

The Kyodo poll found that 85 per cent of respondents considered the roll-out slow, with 71.5 per cent unhappy with the government's handling of the pandemic.

Source: AFP/kg

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