Tokyo Olympics: Online campaign against the Olympic Games being held gains traction
With less than three months to go before the start of the summer Olympics, questions remain over how Tokyo can hold the global event and keep volunteers, athletes, officials and the Japanese public safe from coronavirus.
Last Updated: 07/05/21 10:34am
An online petition calling for the Tokyo Olympics to be cancelled has garnered almost 200,000 signatures in the past few days, as public concerns mount over holding the Games during a pandemic.
The state of emergency in Tokyo has been extended until the end of May in a bid to tackle rising coronavirus infections, according to reports.
The Kyodo news agency said that the minister in charge of the country's Covid-19 response, Yasutoshi Nishimura, had told a meeting the state of emergency in the Tokyo and Osaka regions would be extended until May 31.
Questions remain over how Tokyo can hold the global event and keep volunteers, athletes, officials and the Japanese public safe from coronavirus.
In two days since its launch, an online campaign called "Stop Tokyo Olympics" has gathered more than 187,000 signatures, nearing its 200,000 goal and underscoring public concerns over holding the massive sporting event in Japan's capital.
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Opinion polls in Japan have found a majority of the public is opposed to the Games, which are due to open on July 23.
"We strongly call for the prevention of spread of coronavirus and protection of lives and livelihood by using available resources to stop the Olympics," Kenji Utsunomiya, the online petition organiser, wrote on his website. Utsunomiya is a lawyer who has run several times for Tokyo governor.
The president of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee, Seiko Hashimoto, told reporters at a press conference that it would be "very difficult" for her counterpart at the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, to go ahead with a planned visit to Japan in the next few days.
But, organisers have repeatedly said the Games will go ahead, unveiling detailed Covid-19 protocols for athletes and officials, with foreign spectators barred from attending.
Pfizer Inc and its German partner BioNTech SE said on Thursday they had agreed to donate their vaccine to help inoculate those participating in the Games.