The International Olympic Committee’s insistence that “sacrifices” must be made to ensure the Games run in Tokyo regardless of the coronavirus situation in Japan has sparked a backlash and new calls for their cancellation.
John Coates, IOC Vice President, drew criticism in Japan after saying the Games would continue even though the host city was still in a state of emergency due to the coronavirus. “The answer is absolutely yes,” said Coates, who is overseeing the preparations, when asked on Friday if he thinks they could be delivered despite the restrictions.
Social media users accused Coates and IOC President Thomas Bach of ignoring the sentiment of the Japanese public, which is overwhelmingly opposed to hosting the Games this year.
“Thomas Bach and John Coates are neck and neck in the race for the most hated outcast here. I predict a dead end, ”says a Japanese Twitter user.
Bach, who has been criticized for speaking about the “resilience” of the Japanese people on Saturday, said at an International Hockey Federation meeting: “Athletes can certainly achieve their Olympic dreams. We have to make sacrifices to make this possible. “
While it’s not clear who Bach was referring to when he called for sacrifices, many have assumed he had the Japanese audience in mind.
“Is he saying that the safety, health and lives of Japanese people should be sacrificed for the Olympics?” a Twitter user said. Another asked, “Why do the Japanese have to make a sacrifice for the Olympics during a global pandemic?” It is certainly not acceptable.
Masayoshi Son, chief executive of SoftBank Group, said Japan, “lagging behind on vaccines,” could pay a much higher price if the Games go ahead, in comments criticizing the Japanese government’s apparent inability to push the vaccine. IOC to cancel the Games without incurring huge financial penalties.
“Currently, over 80% of people want the Olympics to be postponed or canceled. Who and over what authority is he forced to pass? The telecoms billionaire wrote in a Twitter post.
“We are talking about a huge penalty (if the Games are canceled). But if 100,000 people from 200 countries descend on Japan lagging behind vaccines and the mutant variant spreads, lives could be lost, subsidies could result if a state of emergency is called and gross domestic product could plummet. . If we consider what the public has to go through, I think we could have a lot more to lose.
Japanese media have broadcast reports of the “royal” status that Bach and other senior IOC and sports officials would enjoy while in Japan. The Shukan Post, a weekly, said the organizer had booked rooms in at least four of Tokyo’s most expensive hotels, with the IOC paying only a fraction of the bill.
While most national newspapers, which have invested in Tokyo 2020 as official sponsors, have been reluctant about the Olympics, local newspapers have been more outspoken.
Hokkaido Shimbun, also a sponsor, accused Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of “waiving responsibility for people’s lives and health,” while Shinano Mainichi Shimbun said the Games should be canceled.
“We are not in the mood to celebrate an event filled with fear and anxiety,” the newspaper said. “The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics should be canceled… the government must make the decision to protect the lives and livelihoods of the people.”
Japan has reported just over 12,000 deaths from Covid-19 – a comparatively poor toll among Asian countries – and Tokyo, Osaka and eight other regions are under a state of emergency which could be extended a second time until in June, as the country struggles to ease pressure on hospital beds and demoralized health workers.
A recent poll by a national hospital workers union found that more than half of nurses working in Japanese coronavirus departments had considered leaving the profession, many citing stress, fatigue and fear of infection.
Growing concern that the arrival of just under 80,000 Olympic officials, journalists and support staff could trigger a new wave of Covid-19 cases comes as Japan tries to speed up its vaccination program in trouble.
On Monday, two mass inoculation centers run by the Self-Defense Forces opened in Tokyo and Osaka, days after Suga pledged to have 36 million people aged 65 and over fully immunized by the end. July.
Only about 2% of the 126 million people in Japan have been fully immunized since the deployment began in mid-February, including 174,000 elderly people.
With Associated Press