Japanese Opinion Polls Show at Least 60 Percent of Population Opposes Hosting Tokyo Olympics

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BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP via Getty Man in mask standing near Olympic rings in Tokyo

The Summer Olympics are set to begin on July 23 in Tokyo, but Japan's residents aren't looking forward to playing host to the international sports event, recent polls have revealed.

A survey conducted last week in the country showed nearly 60 percent of people in Japan want the Games to be canceled this year amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to Reuters. The poll — which was conducted by Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun from May 7 and 9 — found 39 percent of respondents still believe the Olympics should go on as scheduled. Postponing the event was not an option on the survey, according to the outlet.

Japan — home to more than 126 million residents — initially suspended the Games in 2020 due to COVID-19. The country, like many throughout the world, is still fighting to control increasing cases of the virus a year later.

In late April, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency in Tokyo after there was a sharp rise in cases of the virus, according to NPR. Overall, Japan has experienced 642,063 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, with 5,273 of them in the last seven days, according to a New York Times database.

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A separate survey conducted by Japan's TBS News last weekend revealed similar numbers, with 65 percent of people saying they want the Games canceled or postponed.

Between those two choices, more poll respondents selected to cancel the event altogether (37 percent), with 28 percent opting to delay it once again, Reuters reported.

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Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka recently expressed concern about the Games moving forward, even though competing at the event has been a longtime goal.

"Of course I would say I want the Olympics to happen, because I'm an athlete and that's sort of what I've been waiting for my entire life," she told reporters on Sunday, as noted by ESPN.

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"But I think that there's so much important stuff going on, and especially the past year," she added. "I think a lot of unexpected things have happened and if it's putting people at risk, and if it's making people very uncomfortable, then it definitely should be a discussion, which I think it is as of right now."

According to the outlet, vaccine providers Pfizer and BioNTech announced they would donate vaccines to Olympic athletes and officials who will be in Japan for the Games.

Naomi Osaka

Osaka said she has already been vaccinated.

"I feel like whatever makes everyone more comfortable and more safe. There's going to be a lot of people entering the country, so they definitely have to make the right decisions on that," she said. "I've gotten vaccinated. At the end of the day you can't force anyone to be vaccinated."

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