Tokyo has been “cornered” into holding the games during the coronavirus pandemic, one of Japan’s best-known Olympians and an executive member of the Japanese Olympic Committee said in an outspoken editorial published Friday.
Kaori Yamaguchi said the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the government and local organizers are ignoring widespread opposition to the games from the Japanese public.
Depending on how the question is phrased in different polls, between 50 to 80 percentof Japanese people oppose holding the Olympics.
“We have been cornered into a situation where we cannot even stop now. We are damned if we do, and damned if we do not,” Yamaguchi wrote in an editorial published by Japan’s Kyodo news agency. “The IOC also seems to think that public opinion in Japan is not important.”
Yamaguchi won a bronze medal in judo at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and is also a former world champion. She teaches at the University of Tsukuba.
“What will these Olympics be for, and for whom?” she asked. “The games have already lost meaning and are being held just for the sake of them. I believe we have already missed the opportunity to cancel.”
Japan has officially spent $15.4 billion to organize the Tokyo Olympics, and government audits say it may be twice that.
The Switzerland-based IOC derives almost 75 percent of its income from selling broadcast rights. Its income has been stalled since the one-year postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, and estimates suggest it could lose $3 billion to $4 billion in broadcast income if the games were canceled.
Fans from abroad have already been banned for the Tokyo Olympics.
In her weekly briefing on Friday, organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto said organizers would follow government guidance on having any local fans. That decision was expected on June 20 when the current state of emergency in Tokyo expires. SOVEREIGNPH