An athletics test event at Japan’s National Stadium on Sunday was subjected to protests which called for the cancelation of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games amid fears that the coronavirus will be spread if they go ahead.
The Japan Times reported on the scenes, which took place as some members of the group of more than 100 angry Japanese citizens made speeches criticizing the IOC, Tokyo 2020 organizers, and the national government.
A man who claimed to be a health care professional explained to those gathered around him that the Olympics cannot take place in the capital while ever COVID-19 continues to threaten the health of an aging populous in Japan.
“Anyone could be carrying the coronavirus,” the man said.
“We’ve been working with that assumption and that’s the status quo in the medical industry.”
“The medical care system is about to collapse. We had over 1,000 new infection cases in Tokyo today,” he continued.
“The state of emergency [for Tokyo and several other locations] has been extended and we can’t expect this to end in the foreseeable future. How can we bring the Olympics here under these circumstances?”
Protestors marched around the stadium while shouting various phrases including “Abolish the IOC” and “The Olympics bring crisis to the people”.
Simultaneously, signs boasted slogans such as “Extinguish the Olympic torch” and “The Olympics kill the poor”.
An elderly member of the public, aged 74, was interviewed by the Japan Times and spoke of the urgency she felt to make her voice heard.
“We have to focus our voices,” Miyuki Otomo said.
“Everybody’s saying that the Olympics cannot be held under the current circumstances. But you’ve got to say that the games should not be held, not that the games could not be held.”
“I thought that I wouldn’t be qualified to say the games should not be held if I hadn’t come here,” she admitted.
Hitomi Niiya, who competed in the 5,000 meter race taking place inside the stadium and is known as an outspoken long-distance runner, wasn’t surprised to learn that an anti-Olympic protest was taking place.
“They are citizens of the country, too,” highlighted Niiya.
“Our profession as athletes comes from the understanding, cheering and support of the citizens. If you compete while ignoring them, you are not an athlete,” she insisted.
“If you are just looking at those who support you, you can’t fully say you represent the country.”
Niiya isn’t the only Japanese contestant to speak out on the games.
Yesterday, at the Italian Open, tennis world number two Naomi Osaka admitted to mixed feelings on the sports competition and said: “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.
“But I think that there’s so much important stuff going on, and especially [in] the past year.”
“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,” she expanded further.
“At the end of the day I’m just an athlete and there’s a whole pandemic going on,” the four-time Grand Slam winner pointed out, before giving her thoughts regarding plans announced by the IOC plus Pfizer and BioNTech to vaccinate athletes.
“I feel like whatever makes everyone more comfortable and more safe [should be done]. There’s going to be a lot of people entering the country, so they definitely have to make the right decisions on that,” she claimed.
“I’ve gotten vaccinated,” the 23-year-old Osaka revealed. “[But] at the end of the day you can’t force anyone to be vaccinated.”
The Beverly Hills native then finished by saying: “If you’re going into the Olympics and whatever, make the host country happy.”
With such displays, however, it is evident that the Japanese are far from content, with recent polls suggesting that around 60% still want the Games canceled – albeit a number down on figures from previous months.
The president of this delayed edition of the athletics spectacle, Seiko Hashimoto, remains defiant and recently said: “There are a variety of concerns but, as the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, we are not thinking about canceling the games.”
Republished from RT.com under Creative Commons License