Japan public opinion in favor of postponing Olympic Games

By Sun Haoran Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/24 14:50:39

The New National Stadium, the main venue for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Photo: VCG

Many Japanese internet users have expressed their support for postponing the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge globally, while a Japanese expert noted that a cancellation of the event is "not acceptable" to Japanese society due to the enormous money Japan has spent and the significance the Games has for Japan after decades of economic malaise.

"Many Japanese people will feel regretful and helpless about the possible rescheduling," Yoshikazu Kato, a Japanese adjunct associate professor from the Asia Global Institute at the University of Hong Kong, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Kato explained that a postponement will have negative effects on many aspects, including the careers of veteran athletes, costs for corporate sponsors, term limits of volunteers and contract issues for the Olympic Village after the event.

The US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) voiced its support for delaying the Tokyo Games on Monday after a survey showed an overwhelming majority of US athletes backed a postponement, the AFP reported on Tuesday.

Among the 1,780 US athletes responded to the survey, 68 percent said they did not think the Games could be fairly contested as scheduled, said the USOPC.

The committee made the statement after the Canadian and Australian Olympic committees said they would pull athletes out of the Tokyo Games if the event is pushed through as scheduled.

The likelihood of postponing the Games increased after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday that delaying the event may be the only option to avoid exacerbating the coronavirus pandemic, but the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Organizing Committee insisted that it hopes the Games could be held in 2020 rather than being postponed for a year, highlighting concerns over costs.

Meanwhile, "the Japanese society is more inclined to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games at the moment," said Kato.

"Japanese public opinion can accept the postponement due to the severe pandemic situation worldwide," Kato noted, adding that rescheduling of the event could help curb the economic impact of the pandemic, as insisting on holding the event this year could incur endless costs. 

Up to 74 percent of Japanese people said it is better to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics with the spread of the COVID-19 around the world, while only 14 percent thought it should be held as scheduled, according to a survey released by the All-Nippon News Network (ANN) on Monday.

ANN previously reported that Japan would lose about 4.5 trillion yen ($41 billion) if the Olympic Games are canceled due to the spread of the COVID19.

Dick Pound, a veteran International Olympic Committee member, told USA TODAY Sports on Monday afternoon that the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games will be postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Although some Japanese net users expressed their concerns about the possibly huge amount of losses if the postponement actually happens, most netizens said they support delaying the Olympic Games.

"The Japanese government should focus on containing the COVID-19 domestically," one commented.

Kato stressed that Japan cannot accept the cancelation of the Olympics, "not only because Japan has spent a lot of money and made great efforts for the event, but also due to the significance it brings to the country - the Japanese government and people regard the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as a strategic springboard to help Japan return to the center of the international stage after the 'Lost Decades.'"

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang on Monday said at a daily news briefing that China's stance on supporting Japan in hosting the Olympics remains "unchanged."

China will also "respect the decisions made by the International Olympic Committee and Japanese government after negotiations," Geng said.


blog comments powered by Disqus