With COVID Spike in Japan, Petition Garners Thousands of Signatures for Olympic Games Cancellation

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Petition Garners Thousands of Signatures for Olympic Games Cancellation

Less than three months shy of the scheduled start of the delayed 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, the Associated Press has reported that an online petition circulating in Japan has garnered tens of thousands of signatures asking for the Games to be canceled. With Tokyo in a State of Emergency, along with other Japanese locales, citizens are concerned about the spikes in COVID-19 infections, and the possibility of more health concerns with the Olympics scheduled for late July into early August.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach is scheduled to visit Japan later this month and appear at the Torch Relay. Bach has long insisted the Games will go on, a stance that has also been adopted by the Japanese government and the Tokyo Organizing Committee. When Bach visits on May 17, confirmation of an official green light for the Games is a possibility. To date, more than $15 billion has been spent on the Tokyo Games, and cancellation is a highly unlikely option, given that investment and the IOC’s reliance on the television contracts that have been signed to broadcast the Games.

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Photo Courtesy: Johns Hopkins

Still, more than 70% of Japanese citizens have indicated in polls that they prefer either a cancellation of the Games, or another postponement. COVID-19 cases are rising in the country and while the current State of Emergency is scheduled to be lifted on May 11, many think it will be extended. The thought of athletes, officials and media members from around the world coming to Tokyo has triggered tremendous concern among the already anxious residents. The statistical figures have been alarming, with Japan revealing one day in late April with nearly 8,000 new COVID cases.

The petition seeking an Olympic Games cancellation was organized by Kenji Utsunomiya and indicates that Japan is more concerned with the Olympics than fighting COVID-19.

“Government policies are being set with the Olympics in mind, and measures to curb the coronavirus pandemic are being neglected,” Utsunomiya told The Associated Press. “Hospital are stretched thin, and some people are dying at home.”

A positive surrounding the Games is the Thursday announcement that Pfizer and BioNTech will donate vaccines to athletes and Games staff who have not yet been vaccinated. The companies discussed with the IOC that it would seek to start delivering vaccines in late May and aim to have second doses supplied by the time delegations arrived in Tokyo for the Games.

2 comments

  1. avatar
    Nathan

    What if the athletes do not want to take the vaccine?

  2. avatar
    Liz Browne

    There is no proof that a vaccinated person cannot infect someone else