More than a year after postponing the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, a number of entities have called into question the viability of holding the Games this summer.
According to The Associated Press, Japan’s Asahi Shimbun became the first major newspaper in the country to call for a cancellation of the Olympics. The Opening Ceremony is scheduled for July 23 in Tokyo.
The AP reported that Asahi Shimbun has a morning circulation of 5.16 million and evening circulation of 1.55 million, which makes it the second largest circulating newspaper in the world behind Japen’s Yomiuri Shimbun. Asahi Shimbun is a sponsor of the Games and often opposes the ruling party led by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. Wednesday’s editorial was titled, “We Demand PM Suga Decide Cancellation.”
“We cannot think it’s rational to host the Olympics in the city this summer,” the editorial read. “Distrust and backlash against the reckless national government, Tokyo government and stakeholders in the Olympics are nothing but escalating.
“We demand Prime Minister Suga to calmly evaluate the circumstances and decide the cancellation of the summer event.”
The AP reports that public opinion polls in Japan show that 60-80 percent of the population want the Olympics canceled. An estimated 2 to 4 percent of Japanese citizens have received the COVID-19 vaccination.
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The Associated Press reported Monday that U.S. health officials and the State Department issued travel warnings because of a surge in COVID-19 cases in Japan.
“Travelers should avoid all travel to Japan,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. “Because of the current situation in Japan even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants and should avoid all travel to Japan.”
Japan responded quickly Tuesday, with chief cabinet secretary Katsunobu Kato saying during a news conference that the warning doesn’t ban travel or prohibit essential travel.
“We believe there is no change to the U.S. position supporting the Japanese government’s determination to achieve the games,” Kato said.
“We feel confident that the current mitigation practices in place for athletes and staff by both the USOPC and the Tokyo Organizing Committee, coupled with the testing before travel, on arrival in Japan, and during Games time, will allow for safe participation of Team USA athletes this summer,” the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee said in a statement Monday.
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Earlier this month, the Tokyo Medical Practitioners Association, which represents 6,000 primary care doctors, has recommended that the Olympics be canceled.
Hospitals in the Games host city "have their hands full and have almost no spare capacity" amid a surge in infections, the group stated in a May 14 open letter to Suga.
"We strongly request that the authorities convince the IOC [International Olympic Committee] that holding the Olympics is difficult and obtain its decision to cancel the Games," the letter states.
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