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Opposition to holding Olympic Games on schedule hits 80%

(ATF) The proportion of Japanese people opposed to the country hosting the Olympic Games this year has soared to 80%, a new survey showed on Monday.

Recent polls have hovered around 60% opposition, but the weekend poll by the Asahi Shimbun daily found 43% favoured cancellation, with another 40% wanting a further postponement.

The latest downbeat poll comes after Japan expanded a coronavirus state of emergency on Friday as the nation battles a fourth wave of infections.

The surge in cases has put pressure on the country’s healthcare system, with medical professionals repeatedly warning about shortages and burnout.

“I am one of those in the 80%. I think the Olympics should be postponed. Is it that difficult to postpone it?” passer-by Sumiko Usui, 74, told Agence France-Presse in Tokyo.

Takahiro Yoshida, 53, also expressed doubts over the event. “In my honest opinion, it will be difficult to hold the Games… Athletes from overseas must be worried as well, because Japan’s coronavirus situation is bad,” he said.

Only 14% support holding the Games this summer as scheduled. Asahi Shimbun polled 1,527 people.

Analysts say the scaled-down, foreign-visitor-free Olympics would do nothing for Japan’s economy.

“The Olympic schedule increases the incentive to extend or expand restrictions under the state of emergency,” Barclays analyst Tetsufumi Yamakawa said. “We now see a stronger risk of a technical recession in the second quarter.”

The Olympic Games were cancelled in 1916, 1940 and 1944 due to global war. The 2020 event was the first to be postponed since the modern Games began in 1896.

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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