Welcome to the latest installment of “things are totally fine in Japan ahead of the Olympics.” Not.
Early this morning, one of Japan’s major newspapers, The Asahi Shimbun, called on the Japanese government to cancel the 2021 Olympics. The paper is also an official Olympic partner.
Other Japanese daily newspapers, such as The Nikkei, The Mainichi, and The Yomiuri, are official Tokyo Olympic partners as well. But none have called for the Games to be canceled.
“It is simply beyond reason to hold the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this summer” due to the ongoing threat posed by COVID-19, the Asahi Shimbun wrote in an editorial.
Polls from the paper show a growing reluctance among Japanese citizens toward hosting the Tokyo Games. The latest survey found 83 percent of respondents opposed holding the international event this summer.
Citizens, businesses, activists, and even Tokyo doctors have also called for the games to be cancelled.
“The present situation is nowhere close to making anyone feel safe, and that’s the unfortunate reality,” the editorial continued.
Unlike the U.S., where 50 percent of adults are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, Japan lags way behind in inoculations. The island nation has only vaccinated 5 percent of its population and won’t have enough doses for the general public until September. A fourth wave of COVID infections and deaths has also hit the host city of Tokyo — which plans to extend its state of emergency past May 31.
And this week, the CDC issued a Level 4 “do not travel” advisory for Japan due to its “very high level” of COVID cases.
But even if the host city is in a state of emergency, the Games will go on. IOC Vice President John Coates said so last week.
The Asahi Shimbun called his remark “astounding” and “clearly at odds with popular sentiment in Japan.”
I’d use those same quotes to describe the country’s preparation for these postponed, pandemic Olympics.