Hundreds of people have mobilized around Tokyo’s National Stadium to protest en masse against the upcoming Olympic Games.
Japan continues to insist that the games will continue, despite a year’s delay after the global coronavirus outbreak.
As the proposed July 23rd launch date for the revised Games is fast approaching, crowds are raising their voices and calling for the Olympic Games to be canceled in order to protect the people from the potential massive spread of the virus. .
Japan is in a precarious situation as its borders have been essentially sealed for most of the past 12 months, but the Olympic and Paralympic Games will draw 15,000 athletes and tens of thousands of officials, judges, media and broadcasters.
Protesters formed huge lines around the stadium, while being watched by local police in case of unrest. The movement gained momentum and lasted well after sunset, into the evening.
Hundreds of people gathered outside Tokyo’s National Stadium to make their voices heard
Locals, under police surveillance, marched with banners saying ‘Olympics kill the poor’
A banner related to the games read: ‘Stop forced attendance of children’
The protests lasted well into the evening and began to gain momentum after sunset
A major opposition is now emerging and the Japanese are afraid of another major Covid-19 outbreak
A banner read “ Olympics kill the poor! ” Contradicting the increased risk that the vulnerable people in the Tokyo area will be exposed to a greater risk of Covid-19 transmission due to thousands of people flocking to the city.
Still, IOC member and two-time Olympic gold medalist Sebastian Coe has once again tried to reassure athletes and skeptical residents of Japan that the delayed Olympics will be safe when they open in just under 11 weeks.
Coe heads the world board of the athletics world, World Athletics, which hosted a testing event on Sunday with 420 athletes – only nine of whom came in from outside Japan to compete.
“I recognize that nine athletes coming for a test event are very different from thousands of competitors who come to this city over the summer months,” Coe said.
A protester put on a megaphone and began communicating with others during the event
An organized march continued around the stadium as the protest gathered momentum
The residents of Tokyo make it clear that they think the games cannot continue in this climate
He added that he was “very empathetic” with the concerns of a Japanese public who has shown in polls that it is overwhelmingly against the Olympics being held during a pandemic.
Outside the stadium, the scene was different with about a hundred ‘anti-Olympic’ protesters marching around the venue in central Tokyo, singing and holding posters that read, ‘Olympics – Just Stop It’ and ‘Stop the Forced Attendance of children ‘.
“There is an infectious disease going on and so I think they should spend more money on medical care,” said Takashi Sakamoto, a local who attended the meeting and works in warehouses and cleaning buildings.
“Even before the pandemic, there were people who couldn’t buy food and were left homeless, and the pandemic has made things worse,” he added.
Sebastian Coe has again tried to reassure athletes and skeptical residents of Japan
Miyuki Otomo, a retired teacher who attended the meeting, called the Olympics a “ horrific event ” that is being pushed among the public for commercial reasons.
“If the Olympics were really a normal event, they would just cancel it because of the pandemic.”
Opposition to the Olympics appears to be on the rise in Japan, although the small rally contradicts that. An online petition asking for the matches to be canceled drew 300,000 signatures in just three days and still rose on Sunday.
Some medical officials in Japan have also proposed canceling the Olympics, as did the British Medical Journal in an editorial last month. The virus and its spreading variants put a strain on Japan’s healthcare system, as only 2 percent of the population is vaccinated.
Olympic organizers have asked 10,000 medical specialists to assist during the games, but say their efforts will not affect ordinary Japanese.
Despite public opposition, all signs point to the opening of the Olympic Games on July 23. Japan has officially spent $ 15.4 billion on the Olympics – some estimates suggest twice as much – and the International Olympic Committee is relying on billions in television broadcast revenue brought to a halt by the pandemic. .
Doubt creeps in among the athletes-to-be, however, with national icon Naomi Osaka recently voicing concerns about the safety and logistics of the games.
The tennis star said who represents Japan was asked about the Games at the Italian Open on Sunday and replied: ‘Of course I would say I want the Olympics to take place because I’m an athlete and that’s what I’ve had my whole life waited.
‘But I think so many important things are happening, especially in the past year.
National icon Naomi Osaka has admitted that a serious ‘discussion’ must now take place
“ I think a lot of unexpected things have happened and if it puts people in danger, and if it makes people very uncomfortable, then it should definitely be a discussion, which I think it is from now on, ” Osaka added.
Starting with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, to chair of the organizing committee Seiko Hashimoto, the message was the same: the games can be held and will be ‘safe’, usually with reference to World Health Organization guidelines.
Hashimoto was forced to decline on Friday. She encouraged IOC President Thomas Bach not to visit Japan this month, with a state of emergency in Tokyo and elsewhere extended to May 31 due to the spreading virus. It would end on Tuesday.
Japan has attributed nearly 11,000 deaths to COVID – good by world standards, but poor compared to Asian neighbors such as Taiwan and Vietnam.
American sprinter Justin Gatlin, who is trying to reach his fourth Olympics, said he felt safe while competing in Tokyo. Gatlin won the final in the 100m in 10.24 seconds.
2020 Tokyo president Seiko Hashimoto said Thomas Bach’s visit to the city is now unlikely
“I felt unsafe,” he said. “I have been tested every day,” he said, but warned that these Olympics will not please everyone.
‘I know a lot of athletes won’t be happy about this, but these are the measures to keep us safe. I think it is worth it. ‘
The IOC announced a few days ago that vaccine developers would donate Pfizer and BioNTech doses to inoculate athletes and officials preparing for Tokyo. The IOC has repeatedly said that the Olympics were organized as if the vaccines were not available, but has made every effort to get athletes vaccinated.
Several Japanese athletes participating in the competition were asked if they wanted to take the vaccine. Most said they should think about it, but Japanese 5,000-meter runner Hitomi Niiya said she was against putting athletes at the front of the line.
“I don’t think athletes should be treated specially,” she said. ‘I think all lives matter and I don’t think it’s a priority. Athletes and the general public are all the same and should be treated fairly. ‘