Petition with over 3,51,000 signatures to cancel Tokyo Olympics submitted
A petition to cancel the Tokyo Olympics with more than 3,51,000 signatures was submitted to the city's governor on Friday. The online petition titled "Cancel the Tokyo Olympics to protect our lives" was launched earlier this month by a lawyer Kenji Utsunomiya. Reportedly, it has gathered signatures faster than any previous petition on Change.org's platform in Japan. Here are further details.
Utsunomiya urges Olympics organizers to "prioritize life"
"I think the Olympics this time is about whether we prioritize life or a ceremony and event called the Olympics," said Utsunomiya, the organizer of 'Stop Tokyo Olympics' campaign. Utsunomiya added, "We are not in that situation and therefore the Games should be canceled. Precious medical resources would need to be diverted to the Olympics if it's held."
Japan battles fourth wave of COVID-19 infections
The petition to cancel the Tokyo games was sent to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Paralympic Committee, as well as local organizers and the national government. It was submitted as Japan battles a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections, with Tokyo, Osaka and four other prefectures under a state of emergency. As of now, the Olympics is scheduled to begin on July 23.
Hokkaido prefecture reports surge in COVID-19 cases
The new areas under the state of emergency include Hokkaido prefecture where the Olympic marathon is set to take place. Notably, the prefecture reported a record high of 712 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday.
'Impossible to hold the Games safely amid pandemic'
Utsunomiya has warned that "holding the Olympics under these circumstances means precious medical resources have to be set aside for the Games". On Thursday, a doctors' union reiterated that it was "impossible" to hold the Games safely during the pandemic. However, the organizers remain confident about the virus countermeasures, which according to them will keep the athletes safe.
Several Japanese athletes express concerns
Speaking on the anti-Games campaign, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said she would continue to work toward a "safe and secure" Olympics. Despite the constant assurances, several high-profile Japanese athletes, including tennis player Naomi Osaka, have expressed concerns about the safety. Quite a few towns that were due to host the pre-Games events have also stepped back as they couldn't guarantee medical help.
Will the Tokyo 2020 Olympics go ahead as planned?
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics was due to take place from July 24 to August 9, 2020. However, the Games were postponed as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. This is the first time that the Olympics has been postponed, rather than getting redundant. It remains to be seen if the upcoming edition goes ahead when nearly 60% of Japanese want it to be canceled.