TOKYO (AFP) – Tokyo Olympics organisers played down a poll showing plunging support for the Games yesterday and said a report claiming cancellation could be discussed next month was “fake news”.
The comments, less than 200 days before the postponed Games start in July, come with greater Tokyo under a state of emergency over a spike in coronavirus cases and with countries battling outbreaks.
In a New Year’s address to staff, Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto put a positive spin on a Kyodo news poll showing 45 per cent want the 2020 Games delayed again, with 35 per cent favouring outright cancellation.
“The number of people calling for it to be cancelled has only risen by about five per cent,” Muto said.
“The number of people calling for it to be postponed has risen a lot, but that means those people still want it to be held,” he added.
“Of course, for it to be held, we have to guarantee that we hold a safe Games with anti-virus measures. If you think of it in those terms, I firmly believe people will get more and more behind it.”
Muto also dismissed as “fake news” a Japanese media report claiming the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 organisers would debate the fate of the Games in February.
“When these types of reports surface, some people might feel anxious about them,” said Muto.
“I want to say that we are not thinking that way at all, and that these reports are wrong.”
British rowing great Matthew Pinsent on Monday called for the Games to be cancelled and Tokyo to host the event in 2024 instead.
The four-time Olympic gold medallist tweeted that it would be “ludicrous” to host an event with thousands of people flying in unvaccinated.
Pinsent called for Tokyo to host the Games in 2024, with Paris taking over in 2028 and Los Angeles moving back to 2032.
Japan’s government is expected to expand the state of emergency soon to several additional regions, and it has already lowered spectator caps at sports events in greater Tokyo to 5,000 people or 50 per cent capacity, whichever is less.