‘It’s impossible’: Tokyo residents concerned about hosting Olympics after state of emergency declared

Games have already been delayed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic

Irene Wang,Jack Tarrant
Friday 08 January 2021 11:58
Olympic Rings near the National Stadium in Tokyo
Olympic Rings near the National Stadium in Tokyo

As Tokyo woke up to its second state of emergency on Friday, many people believe it will be difficult, perhaps impossible, to host the Olympic Games safely.

The Japanese government and International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided in March to postpone the Olympics by a year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The global sports showpiece is now slated to start in fewer than 200 days and run from 23 July 23 until 8 August, with the Paralympics following from 24 August to 5 September.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga reiterated on Thursday his intention to hold the Games.

However, a December poll by public broadcaster NHK showed a third of Japanese residents want the Games to be scrapped due to fears an influx of foreign arrivals may cause a further spike in Covid-19 cases. In the same poll, 31 percent of respondents favoured another delay, while only 27 percent said the Olympics should go ahead as scheduled.

READ MORE: Will the Tokyo Olympics go ahead in 2021?

"I think it's difficult. It's impossible to hold the Olympics," said 75-year-old Tatsuhiko Akamasu, who was visiting Tokyo on Friday from nearby Saitama.

"I don't think we can get the virus under control during this period."

The 121-day torch relay, which normally heralds the countdown to the Olympic Games, was cancelled this week.

"I think it is more likely that we won't hold the Olympics, and I would rather the government make the decision at some point to cancel it," said 74-year-old Hisashi Miyabe.

Over 15,000 athletes from across the world are expected to descend on Tokyo for the Games, leading to concerns they may bring new mutations of the virus to Japan.

"I think the interaction between people will cause further spread of the coronavirus, and it is more likely that the virus may mutate if the infection numbers are increasing. I feel that is a bit scary," said 23-year-old student Yuki Furusho.


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