Asahi daily, an official Tokyo Olympics partner, urges Games cancellation

Japanese newspaper publisher Asahi Shimbun, an official partner of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, called for the Summer Games to be cancelled in an editorial on Wednesday, citing risks to public safety and strains on the medical system from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Several polls have shown the majority of the public is opposed to holding the Games this summer, concerned about tens of thousands of athletes and officials descending on a country where vaccinations have proceeded slowly.

Doctors’ associations have protested holding the Games, investors have talked up the benefits of shelving them here, and maverick businessmen such as Masayoshi Son have called for cancelling the games.

“We are far from a situation in which everybody can be confident they will be ‘safe and secure’,” the paper added, invoking the government mantra about the Games.

Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto shrugged off the editorial, saying that “it is only natural for all sorts of media organisations to have all sorts of opinions” about the issue, at a news briefing held on Wednesday evening following a Tokyo 2020 executive board meeting.

Olympic organisers have insisted that the Games can go ahead as planned.

Speaking ahead of the board meeting, Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto said only one coach tested positive for coronavirus over the course of four test events with almost 7,000 visitors from some 50 countries.

The events “are evidence that our current coronavirus precautions are effective”, she said.

“Even baseball matches are being held currently with spectators. Why not go ahead with the Games?,” Kozo Yamamoto, a heavyweight politician of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said in an interview with Reuters.

The United States on Monday issued an advisory against travel to Japan, but Japanese officials said it would not affect the Games, and the White House said on Tuesday it stood by the decision to hold the Games as planned.

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