We are a little more than two months away from the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. While vaccines are rolling out at a steady pace, the pandemic is still very much in effect. Despite Japan still being in a state of emergency, the IOC and the Japanese government have continued to press on and prepare Tokyo for this year’s Olympic games.
“We listen but won’t be guided by public opinion,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said, adding, “everything is telling us…that the games can go ahead and will go ahead.”
In a social survey, only 9% of Japanese residents believed that the Olympics should be held, while 32% of people said the games “should be canceled,” and 17% said the games “should be postponed again.” Interestingly enough, 21% said “they should be held without letting in spectators from overseas,” and 15% said “they should be held without letting in any fans, including those living in Japan.” A small 6% of respondents answered they “don’t know.”
It’s worth mentioning that only 2% of the Japanese population has been vaccinated. This disturbingly low percentage along with the aforementioned state of emergency and the 107% hospital bed occupancy rate is putting the Olympics in a very unfavorable position. The Olympics are estimated to cost at least $15 billion, most of that being Japanese taxpayer money. Local Japanese government officials have taken their own stand against the Olympics. The Kanagawa prefecture governor and Ibaraki prefecture governor have both rejected requests to secure their hospitals for Olympic athletes, stating, “…we cannot prioritize athletes over our own citizens.”
In related news, the IOC recently banned all forms of protest at the Olympics – a stage that has historically benefitted athletes and allowed their stances on political and social issues to be heard on a global level. If you’re curious as to whether the Olympics have ever been cancelled outright, TIME Magazine answered that question at the start of lockdown last year.
Photo via TIME