05/10/2021, 17.21
JAPAN
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Japanese don't want Tokyo Olympics, government under pressure

About 59 per cent of the population are calling for the Games to be cancelled due to the pandemic. For Prime Minister Suga, they must go on, but the competition doesn't come before public health. Closed-door testing did not show infections among athletes. Tennis star calls for careful discussion about the Games.

Tokyo (AsiaNews) – More and more Japanese are opposed to the Tokyo Summer Olympics. Three months from its scheduled opening, 59 per cent of the population is calling for the Games to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 emergency.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told the Japanese Diet (parliament) that the sporting event will take place in complete safety, a view shared by the International Olympic Committee. He rejected opposition claims that the government is choosing the event over public health.

The Olympics were supposed to be held in the summer of 2020, but were postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. They are set to start on 23 July until 8 August. The Paralympics will follow on 24 August to 5 September.

The Japanese government has decided that foreign spectators will not be able to come to Japan to watch the competition. Suga added that athletes and their staff will have to comply with strict health guidelines, including daily testing and isolation from the public, on pain of disqualification.

A recent surge of cases has forced the Suga administration to extend the state of emergency to Tokyo and other prefectures.

Yesterday health authorities reported about 6,500 cases. In the last week the average was 5,300 cases per day, far below the 9,000 reported in Italy, a country that is ahead of Japan in terms of vaccination.

Yesterday, 420 athletes were tested behind closed doors. It was the 11th such practice in the last month, with organisers saying no cases of contagion have been found so far.

However, for Naomi Osaka, the Japanese tennis star, the risks of holding the Games should be carefully discussed.

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