Japan is losing support to host the Olympics from athletes and citizens as COVID-19 ravages the country
COVID-19situation is causing many to push the country to cancel the Tokyo Olympics.
- Athletes, including Naomi Osaka, are not firmly supporting the games if its unsafe.
- IOC President Thomas Bach was forced to cancel his trip to
Japanthis week due to rising cases.
The Tokyo Olympics are in jeopardy, as Japan's surging COVID-19 cases show no signs of slowing down.
The country is currently in a
The conditions are so bad that 70% of Japanese citizens believe the Olympics should be canceled or postponed, according to a recent Kyodo News poll, and a change.org petition to cancel the Olympics garnered more than 310,000 signatures in just three days. This weekend, Japanese citizens held in-person rallies in the streets of multiple cities, protesting against the Olympics in a tumultuous time for their country.
But now, athletes are also taking more neutral stances on whether to support the games commencing this summer and aren't putting their weight behind making sure they happen.
Naomi Osaka, who is set to represent Japan in women's tennis, told reporters at the Italian Open on Sunday that she is on board with whatever makes the Japanese people most comfortable.
"Of course, I would say I want the Olympics to happen because I'm an athlete, and that's sort of what I've been waiting for my entire life," Osaka said.
"But I think that there's so much important stuff going on, and especially the past year," she added. "I think a lot of unexpected things have happened, and if it's putting people at risk, and if it's making people very uncomfortable, then it definitely should be a discussion, which I think it is as of right now."
Japanese Olympic swimmer Rikako Ikee, who made Japan's national women's swim team two years after being diagnosed with leukemia, shared her fears about the Olympics commencing as her country continues to be ravaged by the
"I have a chronic illness and, whether the games are held or not, I live every day with the anxiety [of being infected with the virus] and becoming seriously ill," she wrote. "Myself and other athletes will accept what happens, whether the Olympics take place or not."
In addition to athletes, other Japanese citizens expected to participate in some capacity have also withdrawn their support.
A woman who was supposed to participate in the torch relay has even backed out. Kane Tanaka, the world's oldest woman according to Guinness World Records at 118 years of age, was going to take part in a wheelchair pushed by relatives in the May 11 leg of the torch relay in Shime, Fukuoka. However, the ongoing pandemic has forced her to back out.
"It's unfortunate because I wanted people to feel hope in the sight of her cheerfully carrying the torch," Tanaka's great-granddaughter Junko Tanaka said, according to NPR.
The Japanese government, including Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, has consistently expressed commitment and intent to ensuring The Games commence on time over the past several months. But on Monday, Suga may have indicated his priorities have changed due to the recent rampancy of the virus.
"I've never put [the] Olympics first," he said. "My priority has been to protect the lives and health of the Japanese population. We must first prevent the spread of the virus."
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