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Olympics sponsor urges Tokyo Games cancellation
The Olympic Games logo is seen near a traffic sign in Tokyo. Photo: Reuters.

Corporate players roll with tide of popular opinion as going ahead with mass event amid Covid-19 surge looks increasingly untenable

(AF) A corporate sponsor of the Olympic Games in Tokyo called on Wednesday for the event to be cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic and the country’s low vaccination rate.

The Asahi Shimbun newspaper signalled the latest sign of opposition to the Games less than two months before the opening ceremony.

The call comes with public opinion in Japan rising against holding the Games this summer, and after prominent business leaders voiced their concern in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, towns across Japan are cancelling plans to host athletes, leaving competitors with little chance to train or even acclimatise.

The US has issued a blanket travel advisory, suggesting no one should go to Japan, including athletes and officials.

Organisers insist however that the Games are on, saying an extensive rulebook will keep athletes and the Japanese public safe.

But Asahi Shimbun said it “cannot accept the gamble” of holding the event, despite organisers’ assurances.

‘CALM ASSESSMENT’

The Asahi daily’s editorial urged Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to “make a calm, objective assessment of the situation and make the decision to cancel this summer’s Olympics”.

It also accused International Olympic Committee leaders, including vice-president John Coates, of being “self-righteous” and “clearly out of step” with the Japanese public.

When asked last week if the Games could be held even during a virus state of emergency, Coates said “the answer is absolutely yes”.

Tokyo and other parts of Japan are currently under a state of emergency, which is expected to be extended this week until June 20.

With reporting by Agence France-Presse

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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.

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