Japan has experienced several protests over the last few weeks to cancel the Tokyo Olympics amid the COVID-19 surge. These include an anti-Olympic petition with 350,000 signatures and a letter from the Tokyo Medical Practitioners Association to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. Apart from this, people have also been flocking to the streets with placards that read "Cancel the Tokyo Olympics."
The resistance to cancel the Tokyo Olympics reached such an extent that it made Suga – who maintained Games will go as planned until some time ago – push the ball in the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) court to decide its fate.
Japan men’s hockey team coach Siegfried Aikman called the protests "political and manipulating." The Indian-origin Dutch coach, who won the 2018 Asian Games with Japan, stated it’s shocking to see such kind of petition and the resistance to cancel the Tokyo Olympics.
“What they have said in the Petition is not the real truth. They do politics. In Japan, they have certain special hospitals for COVID treatments. The rest of the hospitals are treating normal cases. Being in lockdown, many people cancelled their hospital appointments because they think it’s too risky in these times of COVID,” Aikman told Sportskeeda exclusively from Japan.
The anti-Olympic petition stated that the Tokyo Games organizing committee’s request for thousands of local medical staff is an attempt to deprive local citizens during their need. The 62-year-old Aikman opined that this was not the case.
“All the National Olympic Committee (NOCs) at the Tokyo Olympics will have their own set of doctors and medical staff for COVID-19 and other emergencies. So that means there will never be any extra burden on the local doctors.
“But in the petition it is said that the Local Organising Committee (LOC) wants to take the doctors away that will result in more deaths. Who wants more deaths? Everybody will be against the Olympics then. As a team, we say that if it means more deaths then we don’t want to go to the Tokyo Olympics.
“They (doctors) want more capacity in the hospitals. That’s not something that has to do with the Tokyo Olympics. Even if there is no Olympics, nothing will change for them. This is a way of manipulating things,” added Aikman.
"Japanese people don’t protest that much" - Aikman
According to Aikman, Japanese people don’t protest much and most people he has met during his stay in the country want the Tokyo Olympics to happen. Japan is stringent on protocols when it comes to COVID and having experienced those in recent times, Aikman is confident there is no risk of foreign athletes spreading the infection.
“Japanese people don’t protest that much. If I talk to people whom I meet, they never tell me to quit. They always encouraged me saying, ‘Please make us proud at the Tokyo Olympics. We will cheer for you’. I spoke to governors, mayors, people on the street and my neighbourhood; and they never told me that Olympics shouldn’t be happening.
“Restrictions are very hard and strict in Japan regarding COVID and I don’t think there is a huge risk for foreign athletes to travel to Japan and infect people. So the chance that they will infect Japanese people with COVID is zero,” he concluded.