The president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee alluded to the strong possibility that the 2021 Summer Games will likely bar local fans from attending. Fans from abroad were barred from the event months ago due to Covid-19 risks, and the committee has less than two months to decide whether or not the locals of Japan will be able to attend.
Regardless of what the committee decides, however, a majority of Japanese residents have been adamant about their disapproval of the Olympic Games from occurring this year. Multiple surveys have shown that more than half of the citizens of Japan want the Games to be cancelled or postponed another year due to safety concerns.
Beyond the obvious concerns over bringing in groups of people from every single country in the world to one small venue, the Japanese government recently extended a state of emergency until June 20th due to a rise in Covid-19 cases that’s straining the country’s medical system.
Organizers and the International Olympic Committee are insisting that they will be going ahead with the games this year, despite the multiple polls showing 60% – 80% of Japanese residents want them called off.
“We would like to make a decision as soon as possible (on fans), but after the state of emergency is lifted we will assess,” organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto said.
“There are many people who are saying that for the Olympic Games we have to run without spectators, although other sports are accepting spectators. So we need to keep that in mind. We need to avoid that the local medical services are affected. We need to take those things into consideration before agreeing on the spectator count.”
Over 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes from more than 200 countries are expected to come into Japan for the 2021 Olympic Games. The New England Journal of Medicine recently wrote an op-ed regarding the IOC and their adamant attitude in relation to making the Games happen this year.
“We believe the IOC’s determination to proceed with the Olympic Games is not informed by the best scientific evidence. Organizers should reconsider holding the Olympics in the middle of a pandemic.”
Japan experienced around 12,500 deaths due to Covid-19, and that number has not stopped growing. The vaccination rollouts in Japan began slowly, and currently only about 5% of the population is fully vaccinated.
Japan has spent about $15.4 billion to organize the Olympics, and Richard Pound, senior IOC member, told a British newspaper that the games will take place unless “Armageddon” occurs. IOC president Thomas Bach claimed that “everyone in the Olympic community needs to make sacrifices if we want to hold the Games this year,” despite the fact that a majority of Japanese residents have made it clear that they want the opposite of that.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at email@example.com.