The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Wednesday said it supported Japanese measures to counter COVID-19 and was confident the Tokyo Olympics would be a “historic” event, despite public opposition.
Japan is battling a surge in coronavirus infections less than three months before the games begin on July 23.
A majority of its population wants to see the Olympics canceled or postponed for a second time, according to several polls, with about 70% of the 10,500 athletes — about 7,800 — already qualified for the games.
“We are now very much in an implementation phase with 78 days to go and fully concentrated on delivering the games,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said during an online news conference.
“When the games happen and the Japanese people are proud hosts of an event that will be an historic moment, I think I am very confident we will see public opinion hugely in favor of the games.” His online news conference ended with a protester, who had signed up as a journalist, unfurling a banner reading “No to Olympics” and shouting profanities and “No Olympics anywhere” before being cut off.
Japan on Wednesday added Aichi and Fukuoka prefectures to its third state of emergency, which originally covered Tokyo, Osaka, Hyogo and Kyoto prefectures. The measure has also been extended to May 31 as the number of cases rises daily, forcing IOC President Thomas Bach to postpone a visit to Japan in May.
A survey conducted from May 7 to 9 by the Yomiuri Shimbun showed 59% of respondents wanted the games canceled as opposed to 39% who said they should be held. Postponement was not offered as an option.
Another poll conducted over the weekend by TBS News found 65% wanted the games canceled or postponed again. More than 300,000 people have signed a petition that launched five days ago and calls for the cancellation of the games.
“In terms of Japan and Tokyo we understand the caution,” Adams said. “We are fully in solidarity with them. People are very cautious. We have to fully trust Japanese authorities.” “There will be ups and downs (in public opinion). We have to take account of public opinion on a longer term. As things stand now we are moving full ahead. We continue to plan for full games. That’s the way it has to be for us.”
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