La Jornada newspaper
Thursday, January 14, 2021, p. a12
Tokyo Opposition to the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 is on the rise. According to some surveys, there is a growing trend in Japanese public opinion that thinks that they should be definitively canceled in the face of the conditions posed by the Covid pandemic. The International Olympic Committee and local organizers have said that another postponement is impossible, so the only options are to carry them out from July 23, as scheduled, or to cancel them permanently.
Recent polls by the Kyodo agency and the TBS channel indicate that 80 percent of Japanese public opinion wants the fair to be postponed again or canceled, or thinks it will not take place. This represents a 15-20 percent increase from last month.
The Japanese are increasingly inclined to oppose the Games this summer, and the state of emergency reinforces the impression that they are a lost cause, Koichi Nakano, who teaches politics at Tokyo’s Sofia University, said in an email to The Associated Press.
The scenario is delicate, because a week ago Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency in Tokyo and its surroundings due to a rebound in the coronavirus, but at the same time he promised that the Olympics in the middle of the year will be held and will be safe .
Dr. Atsuo Hamada, an infectious disease specialist at Tokyo University Hospital, said the Games can bring pride and a legacy, and perhaps financial benefits, but they can also bring Covid-19.
Hamada says the state of emergency changed everything. He believes that most Japanese are not going to start getting vaccinated before May.
He added that the bubble method, like the one used by the NBA in Florida, seemed viable, but that the Olympians would require numerous bubbles in the middle of a metropolitan area of 35 million people. Holding the Games seems somewhat more difficult today than it did last year, Hamada said.
There are many factors at play: Olympic finance, geopolitics, and appearances.
Japanese taxpayers have invested billions of dollars in games, the IOC lives off broadcast rights, and its coffers have been hit hard by last year’s postponement. China, for its part, is set to host the Winter Games in Beijing in 13 months, and would gain a political payoff if Japan cannot hold the summer games.
Japan’s prestige in Asia and in the world is important, especially because of its rivalry with China, Nakano said. It would be a nightmare for the Japanese if they can’t put together the first post-Covid games and China does.