Japan’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper on Wednesday called for the Tokyo Olympics to be cancelled with the games set to open in less than two months.
It is the first of Japan’s major newspapers to make the move and joins some regional newspapers which have recently added to the growing opposition to holding the Olympics.
Coming out against the Olympics could be significant since the newspaper, like many in Japan, is a sponsor of the postponed Olympics that are to open on July 23.
“We cannot think it’s rational to host the Olympics in the city this summer,” the newspaper said in its editorial under a headline that read: “We Demand PM Suga Decide Cancellation.”
Despite the editorial, there is no indication the International Olympic Committee or local organizers have any plans to pull the plug on the games.
On Tuesday, the Japanese government said a warning by the U.S. to avoid travel to Japan would have no impact on holding the Olympics.
Public against holding Games
Japan has officially spent $15.4 billion US to organize the Olympics, and the IOC gets billions from selling broadcast rights, which amounts to about 75 per cent of its income.
Public opinion polls in Japan show between 60-80 per cent want the Olympics cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, Tokyo and Osaka and other regions of the country are under a state of emergency that is likely to be extended past its May 31 expiration.
Organizers and the IOC say the games can be held safely with 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes entering Japan, joined by tens of thousands of additional judges, officials, sponsors, broadcasters and media.
Last week, IOC Vice President John Coates was asked if the Olympics would be held if a state of emergency were in force.
“Absolutely, yes,” he replied.