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With the Olympic Games just weeks away, Tokyo police are on high alert over a possible escalation in demonstrations against the sporting event, which is set to open July 23 despite the continued spread of COVID-19.

The Metropolitan Police Department is finalizing its security preparations for Olympic venues and nearby areas.

Organizers are planning to hold the Tokyo Olympics in front of domestic spectators, but many members of the public are calling for the games to be held behind closed doors or canceled altogether.

A security expert has warned that protesters may engage in random acts of violence in an attempt to have the Tokyo Games called off.

The Metropolitan Police Department had long been preparing for the Olympics, including holding anti-terrorism and anti-riot drills.

After the organizers decided on June 21 to allow up to 10,000 spectators to attend events, the superintendent general and other senior officials of the department held talks and confirmed their security policy for the Olympic Games.

Support personnel from the police departments of 16 prefectures have arrived in the capital in the run-up to the games.

Opposition to holding the Olympics remains strong among the Japanese public, with some demonstrating their anger over the games at protests in recent weeks.

A civic group held an anti-Olympic protest near the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building on June 23, a month before the opening of the games.

Demonstrators march during an anti-Olympic protest in Tokyo on June 23. | BLOOMBERG
Demonstrators march during an anti-Olympic protest in Tokyo on June 23. | BLOOMBERG

More than 400 people are believed to have taken part in the rally.

“The number was larger than we had expected,” a senior police official said.

The Metropolitan Police Department is remaining vigilant, as a demonstration is said to be planned for July 23, the day the games are due to open.

International security expert Daiju Wada, who teaches at Seiwa University in Chiba Prefecture, warned of the possibility of terrorist activities fueled by anti-Olympic sentiment taking place.

“The coronavirus has divided people,” Wada said, adding, “As public sentiment against the Olympics is strong, random acts of violence aimed at blocking the Olympics may occur.”

He said that it is important for people to avoid crowded places, which tend to become targets of random attacks.

“Even if anti-terrorism measures are in place, they are useless unless people are aware of the danger of terrorism,” Wada said.

The public and private sectors need to work together, and necessary information should be fully disseminated, he stressed.

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