Should Japan Hold Tokyo Olympics? Pandemic, Public Mood and Money Weigh In

A large majority of Japanese people said they do not want the Tokyo Olympics to be held this year, a Yomiuri daily poll showed on Wednesday.

In early January, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said that he was determined to host the games even though the pandemic threat had not fully disappeared.

The Tokyo Olympics, which were slated to be held in July-August in 2020, was postponed to summer of 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

58% of Respondents Oppose Games

In the Yomiuri daily survey, 30 percent of the respondents said they were "very interested" in the Summer Games, while 40 percent said they were "somewhat interested". However, 58 percent of the respondents opposed the Tokyo Olympics this year.

2020 Tokyo Olympics

Another survey this week also showed the Japanese are broadly against the conduct of the Olympics this summer. According to the survey by Kekst CNC, 56 percent were against holding the Games this year. The majority of respondents in other countries such as Britain, France, Sweden and Germany opposed the Games, a Reuters report said.

Suga had declared that the Tokyo games would deliver "hope and courage" to the whole world and that he would take all possible measures against the infection. He had also said that the government would consider declaring a state of emergency in Tokyo metropolitan area ahead of the games.

Cost of Covid Countermeasures

The Tokyo Games organizers have said that the estimated cost of COVID-19 countermeasures for holding the rescheduled Olympics will be around 100 billion yen ($960 million). According to the Japanese media, the total costs of a year's delay alone would be around 200 billion yen.

Yoshihide Suga
Yoshihide Suga, Prime Minister of Japan Wikimedia Commons

Japan has already spent a huge amount of money on Olympics preparations, most of which was spent on building as many as 19 new stadiums and renovating 18 more. The financial benefits of holding the Games has already been outweighed by the cost escalation. In addition to this, if the games was cancelled altogether, Japan would lose an estimated 4.5 trillion Japanese yen. A further postponement would cost the Japanese treasury an additional 640 billion yen.

Advertisers Backing Off?

Last month, the Economic Times reported that Japan's Olympic sponsors started scaling back advertising campaigns, sensing that the popular support for the Games was fast eroding despite the government's resoluteness to host them this year itself.

The Japanese government, which has committed to use phenomenal amounts of public money for the Games, considers the Olympics as an opportunity to shore up public confidence and give a fillip to the economy.

Related topics : Coronavirus