While many first-world countries have been putting their all into vaccinating as many people as possible against COVID-19 and bringing an end to the pandemic once and for all, Japan has unfortunately had an agonizingly slow process. A large portion of the country is still under a state of emergency, and in the last several weeks, some days have seen up to 6,000 new cases of COVID-19. Local governments are having a hard time organizing vaccine rollouts, all while shots sit unused in freezers. It’s due to these health concerns that the Tokyo Olympics are rather low on the list of priorities for many Japanese citizens.
According to a survey conducted by Japanese news outlet Asahi Shimbun, out of a survey size of 1,500 people, 83% said that the Tokyo Olympics should be either postponed or cancelled outright. On another question in the survey, 73% of respondents said that they were not confident that the games could be held safely, despite assurances of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
In an effort to make their voices on the matter heard, Japanese citizens have begun to protest and petition against the games. Protests and rallies have cropped up in the streets of Tokyo, with protestors holding up signs with slogans like “Olympics kill the poor” and “put people’s lives ahead of the Games.” On the petition site Change.org, over 370,000 Japanese citizens have signed a petition imploring their government to cancel the Olympics. Japanese medical professionals hold the same opinions as the citizens, as 6,000 primary care physicians recently sent a letter to Suga warning that holding the games would lead to hospitals becoming overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases.
The Tokyo Games are only ten weeks away, but much of Japan remains under a state of emergency to combat a rise in COVID-19 cases and a slow vaccine rollout.
Citizens are calling for the Games to be canceled, with some protesting in Tokyo’s streets.⬇️ https://t.co/d1L5BZOCGv pic.twitter.com/gHVaCZt24g
— Insider Asia (@InsiderAsia) May 20, 2021
Suga, for his part, has begun to lose steam on his eagerness for the games, swearing that he would never put the Olympics above the safety of his people. “My priority has been to protect the lives and health of the Japanese population. We must first prevent the spread of the virus,” he said.