Growing opposition to Tokyo 2020 casts shadow on event with 60 days to go

Tokyo, May 23 (EFE).- Preparations for the Tokyo Olympic Games are entering their final 60 days despite growing public opposition to the event amid a fourth wave of Covid-19 in Japan.

The arrival of tens of thousands of foreigners to the country, which has closed its borders to non-residents, raises fears that new variants could spread and put more pressure on the already overstretched health system.

Some 40% of the Japanese people are in favor of postponing the event, while 43% believe it should be canceled, a survey carried out by the Asahi newspaper found. Polls by other media outlets returned similar results.

The current circumstances make it “impossible” to organize the Olympics on 23 July as scheduled, according to Kimio Kuramura, a 76-year-old taxi worker.

“In this situation of ups and downs, I do not think contagions will be reduced,” he added. “I no longer want the Games to be held, I am afraid,” Kuramura told Efe.

These concerns are not shared by Takehiko Sato, a 49-year-old Tokyo resident who believes that the government will speed up the slow vaccination rollout and that the Olympics will not pose any risk.

 Only 5% of over 16s in Japan have received at least a dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, while the International Olympic Committee estimates that 80% of the stakeholders will arrive in Tokyo inoculated.

“Contagions can be avoided and will never end,” Sato said. “So I think they better have an international competition to cheer people up.”

Officials from the International Olympic Committee wanted to reassure the Japanese public following a meeting on Friday.

“I can say it’s now clearer than ever that these Games would be safe for everyone participating and, importantly, safe for the people of Japan,” IOC vice-president John Coates said.

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