Japan Olympian Claims Tokyo ‘Cornered’ into Holding Pandemic-Stricken Games

Japan Olympian Claims Tokyo ‘Cornered’ into Holding Pandemic-Stricken Games

Japan has been “cornered” into holding the Tokyo Olympic Games amid growing public concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, one of the country’s best-known Olympians and executive member of the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) alleged Friday.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) appeared to think it could steamroll over the wishes of the Japanese public, who, surveys show, overwhelmingly want the games cancelled or postponed, the JOC’s Kaori Yamaguchi said in a damning opinion piece carried by the Kyodo news agency, Reuters reports. She wrote:

What will these Olympics be for, and for whom? The games have already lost meaning and are being held just for the sake of them. I believe we have already missed the opportunity to cancel.

We have been cornered into a situation where we cannot even stop now. We are damned if we do, and damned if we do not.

A series of comments by IOC officials have sparked outrage in Japan, including one by IOC Vice President John Coates the country should cooperate even under a state of emergency such as is currently in place in Tokyo and other regions.

Depending on how the question is phrased in different polls, between 50-80 percent of Japanese want nothing at all to do with the sports fest, putting public safety at the top of their agenda.

More than 80% of people in Japan who were surveyed in two polls in the last few days say the Tokyo Olympics should be canceled or postponed, or say they believe the Olympics will not take place. https://t.co/GRfjpnxHrX

— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) January 12, 2021

Yamaguchi took direct aim at the IOC, whose president Thomas Bach has been insistent about holding the Games despite every piece of medical and perceived public opinion arguing to the contrary.

“The IOC seems to think that public opinion in Japan is not important,” she wrote, adding a call for athletes to take a stand. “This presents a good opportunity for athletes to confront the Olympics.”

Yamaguchi won an Olympic bronze medal in judo in the 1988 Olympics and is also a former world champion.

She teaches at the University of Tsukuba.

An ad truck warning of the danger of the coronavirus is driven through Shibuya crossing on May 28, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. The government extended the current state of emergency as Japan continues to grapple with a fourth wave of coronavirus that has seen hospital beds in Osaka reach 96 percent capacity and requests from several organisations to cancel the Olympic Games. (Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty)

An ad truck warning of the danger of the coronavirus is driven through Shibuya crossing on May 28, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. The government extended the current state of emergency as Japan continues to grapple with a fourth wave of coronavirus that has seen hospital beds in Osaka reach 96 percent capacity and requests from several organisations to cancel the Olympic Games. (Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty)

As Breitbart News reported, the reluctance to hold the event has even spread to the volunteers who are essential to making it happen.

Organizers revealed Wednesday some 10,000 volunteers have withdrawn their free labor from the Summer Games, saying they “need 80,000” in all to properly run the games.

Dr. Shigeru Omi, a top medical adviser for the Japanese government and a former World Health Organization regional director, is putting Primer Minister Yoshihide Suga under increasing pressure to explain why the Olympics should take place.

Speaking in a parliamentary session on Thursday he said “holding the games in the middle of the pandemic is abnormal.”

On Friday, also in parliament, he said holding the Olympics if there were still a state of emergency in place “should be avoided.”

The president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee had a simple message Tuesday for fellow members of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party. https://t.co/RIlTRbrBVV

— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) February 2, 2021

According to Sports Illustrated, government audits indicate Japan has allocated about $25 billion for the Olympics, which would make the event the most expensive Olympics on record by $10 billion.

News of the increasing rejection of the games by locals comes just a month after it was announced volunteers from abroad will not be allowed into Japan to help, as Breitbart News reported.

That announcement came two days after organizers said they would also ban international fans, thus making it a locals-only two weeks of sporting endeavor.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games were postponed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, and remain scheduled to start on July 23.

AP contributed to this story

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Simon Kent