Canceling Tokyo Olympics may be option if virus situation worsens, LDP No. 2 says

16-Apr-2021 Intellasia | JapanTimes | 5:02 AM Print This Post

A leading figure in Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party said Thursday that canceling this summer’s Tokyo Olympics could be an option if the COVID-19 situation worsens.

“If it’s impossible, then it should be called off,” LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai, the No. 2 in the party, said on a TV programme. “What is the point of the Olympics if it’s responsible for spreading infections? We will have to make a decision at that point.”

But Nikai also said that hosting the games is a “big opportunity” for Japan and that efforts should continue to ensure the success of the event.

Party heavyweight Nikai, a key backer of prime minister Yoshihide Suga, is known for his frank comments, which come as many other ruling party lawmakers have avoided discussing the hot button issue of a possible cancellation.

The world’s biggest sporting event has already been delayed by a year and is being held without international spectators.

Japan is grappling with rising coronavirus infections, with numbers trending higher in Tokyo after the government ended a state of emergency, and Osaka suffering a record number of cases.

The government is pushing ahead with preparations incorporating social distancing measures and restrictions on spectators for the games set to begin on July 23, with a scaled back torch relay under way.

Suga has vowed to stage a “safe and secure” Olympics and Paralympics, saying they will serve as a symbol of humankind’s triumph over the pandemic.

But public opinion is staunchly against going through with the games, with 39.2 percent of respondents in a recent Kyodo News poll saying they should be canceled and 32.8 percent saying they should be rescheduled.

“Canceling Olympics” was also trending on Twitter in Japan on Thursday with nearly 300,000 tweets from users.


Category: Japan

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