Arab News Japan
TOKYO: Nine of Japan’s 47 prefectural governors think the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games should be canceled or postponed depending on the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a Mainichi Shimbun survey. Of the nine, the prefectures of Saitama, Shizuoka and Yamanashi are set to provide venues for the upcoming Games.
The Mainichi Shimbun sent the questionnaire to all 47 governors on April 20 and received answers from them all by April 28.
The first question asked for their thoughts on holding the Gamesin view of their duty as governors to protect their residents’ health. They could answer in one of four ways: the Games should be held whatever the circumstances of the pandemic; they should be canceled or postponed depending on the circumstances; now is the time to decide to cancel or postponethe Games; and I don’t know.
The nine who said it should be canceled or postponed based on circumstances were from Akita, Ibaraki, Saitama, Yamanashi, Nagano, Shizuoka, Tottori, Oita and Okinawa.
The second question asked if each prefecture stood to gain if the Games were held; 41 governors, including the nine who said the Games should be canceled or postponed depending on circumstances, replied “yes” or “somewhat yes.”
Gov. Motohiro Ono of Saitama – which will host Olympic golf, basketball, soccer, and shooting events – commented: “We are providing the most venues after Tokyo. While doing our best to prepare a safe and secure event, we need to keep an eye on the situation and calmly make a decision.”
Shizuoka Prefecture will host cycling and Gov. Heita Kawakatsu responded: “If infections continue spreading and it becomes clear for all to see that holding the Games is impossible, then we’ll have no choice but to cancel or postpone.” Ibaraki Gov. Kazuhiko Oigawa made similar remarks.
Gov. Shinji Hirai of Tottori Prefecture, which has the second lowest infection numbers nationwide, gave his thoughts: “Promoting world peace through sports is significant, but the priority is for all nations to cooperate and get this pandemic under control.”
The governors of five prefectures – Toyama, Okayama, Hiroshima, Miyazaki, and Kagoshima – chose “I don’t know.” The remaining 33 did not select from the prepared answers, and instead suggested that it was up to the Japanese government, the organizers, or the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to make the decision.
“We’re not in a position to decide,” wrote the governor of Fukui. Gifu’s governor said, “The organizers and others should come to a conclusion.” Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike also didn’t choose an answer, writing, “We are all in the fight to suppress the pandemic, and we will continue to prepare a safe and secure event.”
Regarding the second question asking if there are merits to the Games being held, the Mainichi Shimbun prepared four choices: Yes, somewhat yes, somewhat no and no. Governors of 31 prefectures chose yes, while 10 picked somewhat yes and gave reasons such as it will provide “a positive impact on sports promotion” or “publicity abroad.” Governors in Tochigi, Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Shimane, and Saga were non-commital, but none chose somewhat no or no.
The Olympics and Paralympics are scheduled to take place July 23 to September 5. Questions are being raised over whether they should be held on schedule following public outcry over organizers’ moves to call for doctors and nurses to help with the Games while the country has problems carrying out coronavirus vaccinations and providing sufficient treatment for COVID-19patients. Opinion polls in April by various media outlets showed 60% to 70% of the public supporting cancellation or rescheduling of the Olympics.