80pc say Tokyo Olympics should be called off

TOKYO (AP) — More than 80 per cent of people in Japan who were surveyed in two polls in the last few days said the Tokyo Olympics should be cancelled or postponed, or said they believe the Olympics will not take place.

The polls were conducted by the Japanese news agency Kyodo and Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS).

The results are bad news for Tokyo organisers and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as they continue to say the postponed Olympics will open on July 23.

Tokyo is battling a surge of COVID-19 cases that prompted the national government last week to call a state of emergency. In declaring the emergency, Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he was confident the Olympics would be held.

Japan has controlled the virus relatively well but the surge has heightened skepticism about the need for the Olympics and the danger of potentially bringing 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes into the country.

A couple walk past near the Olympic rings floating in the water in the Odaiba section in Tokyo, Japan. PHOTO: AP

The Olympics could also attract tens of thousands of coaches, judges, officials, VIPs, sponsors, media and broadcasters. It is not clear if fans from abroad will be allowed, or if local fans will attend events.

Japan has attributed about 3,800 deaths to COVID-19 in a country of 126 million.

The TBS poll asked if the Olympics can be held. In the telephone survey with 1,261 responding, 81 per cent replied “no” with only 13 per cent answering “yes.” The “no” responses increased 18 percentage points from a similar survey last December.

In Kyodo’s poll, 80.1 per cent of respondents in a telephone survey said the Olympics should be cancelled or rescheduled. The same question in December found 63 per cent calling for cancellation or postponement.

Kyodo said the survey covered 715 randomly selected households with eligible voters. Neither poll listed a margin of error.