Japanese citizens start petition to cancel Tokyo Olympics 2021 amid rising COVID-19 cases

Japanese citizens concerned about upcoming Tokyo Olympics amid COVID-19 surge
Japanese citizens concerned about upcoming Tokyo Olympics amid COVID-19 surge

The world’s oldest living person, 118-year-old Kane Tanaka, withdrew herself from the Tokyo Olympics torch relay today. And soon after, Japanese citizens started a petition to cancel the big-ticket event amid the COVID-19 surge in the country. This comes after it was reported that the government is mulling an extension of the state of emergency in Tokyo and three other prefectures.

There have been several calls from top Japanese administrators to cancel the Games, but organizers remained firm in their stand to go ahead with the event. Originally scheduled for 2020, the Tokyo Olympics was postponed by a year due to the pandemic.

With less than 80 days left for the Games, the rapid surge in coronavirus cases has raised concerns among residents as well as foreign participants about whether to go ahead with the event.

The Asian country has recorded more than 5000 new positive cases on an average for the last seven days.

What has irked the citizens the most is the organizers’ demand for 10,000 medical workers, including 500 nurses, to staff out the Games. The petition, which was started by a person named Kumiko Jacobs, has already received more than 4,650 signatures.

“In the midst of this crisis, the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games has made a request to the Japan Nursing Association for 500 nurses for the Olympic events. This cruel attempt to deprive the people of Japan of the already limited resources that are now being completely exhausted is tonedeaf at best, deadly at worst,” one of the citizens wrote.
"Japan hasn’t managed to roll out a widespread vaccination program yet. Most Japanese people do not want this. Without tourists coming to spend money there isn’t a benefit to the local economy. The only thing the Olympics will bring is more COVID and variants," a native Maria Naito commented.

Sebastian Coe praises Tokyo Olympics organisers

Meanwhile, World Athletics president Sebastian Coe has praised the Tokyo Olympics organizers after they successfully staged a marathon test event in Sapporo on Wednesday. Six international athletes were reported to have participated in the event, which was held in adherence to stringent protocols.

“The organising committee here not only demonstrated the ability to stage an event on the field of play, it also demonstrated the ability to deliver across other complexities including, of course, the COVID-19 protocols,” Coe told a news conference.

All marathon runners, staff and local media personnel at the event had their body temperatures logged and had to answer a health questionnaire daily in the week leading to the event. Organizers have already banned international audiences from the Tokyo Games.

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Edited by S Chowdhury