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A member of the Japanese Olympic Committee announced Friday that his country is in trouble over the Tokyo Olympics, considering that the event postponed for a year due to the repercussions of the Corona pandemic “has lost its meaning”, but at the same time it indicated that it was too late for cancellation.
Public opinion remains staunchly opposed to holding the Games this summer, but organizers are insisting on proceeding safely with strict anti-Covid-19 measures and the vaccination of most athletes and officials.
In an opinion piece published by Kyodo News, Japanese Olympic Committee member Kaori Yamaguchi, who won a bronze in judo at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, spoke of “anxiety and mistrust” between the public and the government regarding the Games.
“What will these Olympics be and for whom? The Games have already lost their meaning and are only being held for their own sake,” she wrote.
“We’ve been trapped in a situation where we can’t even stop now. Damned if we do it or not,” added Yamaguchi, who previously expressed her unease with the Games and called for them to be postponed last year.
She also criticized the International Olympic Committee, which has repeatedly stressed that the mega event will continue despite the pandemic.
“The IOC also seems to think that public opinion in Japan is not important,” she said, citing public shock over comments by Australian vice-chairman John Coates.
Coats responded to a question by Agence France-Presse last May whether there was a scenario for postponing the games scheduled to start on July 23, or canceling them again by saying, “No, there is no (similar scenario).”
Japan witnessed a relatively limited outbreak, but several regions in the country, including the capital, Tokyo, are currently subject to emergency measures, less stringent than the comprehensive closure, to combat the fourth wave of infections.
The slow vaccination process in the country has begun to recover in recent days, with about three percent of the population fully vaccinated so far.
The government’s chief medical adviser, Shigeru Omi, told parliament on Friday that the Games should not continue if emergency measures were extended beyond their currently scheduled end date of June 20.
“We should completely avoid hosting the Olympics under a state of emergency,” he was quoted by TBS as saying, urging the government to tighten restrictions so it could end emergency declarations before the games.
Researchers have warned that canceling the games would cost Japan about 1.8 trillion yen ($16.6 billion).
Opinion polls show that about 80 percent of Japanese are against hosting the Games this year, but opinion polls among Tokyo residents show a greater split between supporters and opponents.
© 2021 AFP