While an athletics test event was taking place inside National Stadium on Sunday, about 100 people gathered outside the Olympic venue to protest against holding the Summer Games.

Some members of the protest group delivered speeches criticizing the International Olympic Committee, Tokyo 2020 organizers and the government for pressing ahead with the games. The group then marched around the stadium.

A man who identified himself as a health care professional told those around him the Olympics could not take place while COVID-19 is threatening the lives of people in Japan.

“Anyone could be carrying the coronavirus,” he said. “We’ve been working with that assumption and that’s the status quo in the medical industry.

“The medical care system is about to collapse. We had over 1,000 new infection cases in Tokyo today. The state of emergency (for Tokyo and several other prefectures) has been extended and we can’t expect this to end in the foreseeable future. How can we bring the Olympics here under these circumstances?”

Protestor march during a demonstration against the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo on Sunday. | KAZ NAGATSUKA
Protestor march during a demonstration against the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo on Sunday. | KAZ NAGATSUKA

Protestors marched near the stadium while yelling various things such as “Abolish the IOC” and “The Olympics bring crisis to the people.”

There were also signs reading, “Extinguish the Olympic torch” and “The Olympics kill the poor.”

Miyuki Otomo, who resides in Hiratsuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, said she was initially hesitant about coming to Tokyo for the rally but felt the need to raise her voice.

“We have to focus our voices,” Otomo, 74, said. “Everybody’s saying that the Olympics cannot be held under the current circumstance. But you’ve got to say that the games should not be held, not that the games could not be held. I thought that I wouldn’t be qualified to say the games should not be held if I hadn’t come here.”

Outspoken long-distance runner Hitomi Niiya, who finished fifth in the women’s 5,000-meter event that was happening inside the stadium, said she wasn’t surprised there was an anti-Olympic protest.

“They are citizens of the country, too,” Niiya said. “Our profession as athletes comes from the understanding, cheering and support of the citizens. If you compete while ignoring them, you are not an athlete.

“If you are just looking at those who support you, you can’t fully say you represent the country.”

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