Tokyo Games: As Covid cases rise, support for Suga government plummets

Three members of South Africa's football team have tested positive and 21 close contacts have been isolated. Approval for the government is at its lowest level for a year. To avoid association with the sporting event, Toyota will not air commercials related to the Olympics.


Tokyo (AsiaNews/Agencies) - More cases of Covid-19 have been detected in the capital's Olympic village, just four days before the official opening of the event, with the population's opposition to the Games growing stronger.

The new positive cases are a video analysis expert and two football players of the South African men's team, which is due to play its first match against Japan on 22 July, the eve of the opening ceremony.

The new cases were announced by the Organising Committee, after also isolating 21 close contacts, all part of the same team. According to the anti-Covid protocol, infected players and their close contacts will only be allowed to return to play after a negative molecular test carried out within six hours before the start of their competition. 

As well as raising concerns about whether the sporting event can be held safely, the latest episode has caused approval ratings for the government to plummet.

According to a Kyodo News poll, only 35.9% of Japanese people appreciate the work of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, the lowest figure since the government took office last year. In a complementary way, the disapproval rate has risen to 49.8%, while more than 30% of the population still believe that the Olympics should be cancelled.

A large proportion of Japanese people are also dissatisfied with the vaccination campaign and believe that the new state of emergency imposed on Tokyo prefecture is ineffective against the Delta variant.

Toyota has also decided not to associate its image with the Olympics. The carmaker said today that it will not air TV spots related to the sporting event in Japan and its president will not attend the opening ceremony. Toyota, one of the event's biggest sponsors, will continue to "support the athletes by providing vehicles and other means", but the commercials it had prepared with the Japanese athletes will not be broadcast because, according to the car giant's communications manager, the Olympics are proving an increasingly difficult event to support.