Half of Tokyo residents oppose Olympic Games in 2021

29 June 2020 - 12:13 By AFP
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike inspects a Pepper humanoid robot, manufactured by SoftBank Group Corp. during a press preview of a hotel of APA Group that has been designated to accommodate asymptomatic people and those with light symptoms of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) to free up hospital beds and alleviate work by nurses and staff members, in Tokyo, Japan May 1, 2020.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike inspects a Pepper humanoid robot, manufactured by SoftBank Group Corp. during a press preview of a hotel of APA Group that has been designated to accommodate asymptomatic people and those with light symptoms of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) to free up hospital beds and alleviate work by nurses and staff members, in Tokyo, Japan May 1, 2020.
Image: REUTERS/Issei Kato

Just over half of Tokyo's residents don't think the postponed 2020 Olympic Games should be held next year, backing either a further delay or outright cancellation because of fears over the coronavirus, according to a poll published on Monday.

The survey carried out by two Japanese news organisations is only a single data point, but comes after health experts warned that even a year's delay may not be sufficient to hold the Games safely.

The poll conducted over the weekend found 51.7 percent of respondents hope the Games in 2021 are postponed again or cancelled, while 46.3 percent want to see the rescheduled Olympics go ahead.

Among those opposed to a 2021 Games, 27.7 percent said they want them cancelled altogether, while 24.0 percent would prefer a second postponement.

The telephone poll, conducted by Kyodo News and Tokyo MX television between June 26-28, received 1,030 replies.

Of those who said they want to see the Games held next year, 31.1 percent said the event should be in a scaled-back form, including without spectators, while 15.2 percent said they wanted to see a full-blown Olympics.

Tokyo 2020 was postponed in March as the coronavirus spread across the globe, causing the worst disruption to the Olympics since two editions were cancelled during World War II.

The Games are now scheduled to begin on July 23, 2021, although they will still be known as the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Officials from Japan and the International Olympic Committee have warned it will not be possible to postpone again, and even the year-long delay has created significant financial and logistical headaches.

The poll, conducted ahead of the Tokyo gubernatorial election on July 5, also found incumbent Yuriko Koike leading her opponents "by a large margin".

Her precise lead was not specified, in keeping with a media tradition of not publishing polling figures in the days before a vote.

Koike has been heavily involved in preparations for the Games, travelling to Rio for the handover ceremony after the last Summer Olympics.

Earlier this month, she told AFP that the rescheduled Olympics will be safe despite the Covid-19 pandemic, pledging a "120-percent effort" to ensure the first-ever postponed Games can go ahead.


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