Though the Tokyo 2020 organisers have asserted that another delay is out of the question and that they will be held according to the schedule announced yet the public support for holding the coronavirus-postponed Tokyo Olympics this summer has hit a new low in Japan. The poll strongly indicated the public unwillingness in wake of Japan battling a third wave of infections. The concerns in this respect are genuine as the return of the virus has aroused widespread fears. Just over 80 per cent of those asked said the huge global event should be cancelled or postponed again — a jump from around 60 per cent in a 6 December survey. The survey asked 1,041 participants nationwide, who were selected by random dialing.
The public opinion is in direct contrast with the assertions of the organisers of Tokyo 2020 that another delay is out of the question and are insisting the Games will go ahead despite a state of emergency declared in the greater Tokyo area this week over a surge in Covid-19 cases. In national telephone poll, around 35 per cent of people stated that they favoured outright cancellation, while some 45 per cent said the event should be postponed a second time. The month-long emergency in the capital and surrounding regions is less strict than harsh lockdowns seen elsewhere in the world and primarily targets restaurants and bars, which have been asked to close early.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said this week that Japan is committed to holding a safe and secure Olympics. He said he believed the public mood will change when the country begins vaccinations, currently scheduled for late February. But senior International Olympic Committee official Dick Pound told the BBC he could not be certain that the Games will go ahead because the ongoing elephant in the room would be the surges in the virus.
There is hardly any doubt that public sentiment towards the Olympics in Japan has been less than optimistic for months. Two polls in July showed that the majority thought the event should be postponed again or cancelled while a survey released in December by national broadcaster NHK found that only 27 per cent of respondents supported holding the Games in 2021. This probably is the only occasion when the Olympics games are witnessing low anticipation otherwise the venue hosting it in the past has held it with tremendous pride. TW