Torch Relay Shrinks as Infections Surge

(ATR) No spectators for torch relay in Hiroshima... latest polls show holding the Games getting more unpopular

(ATR) There were no spectators as the Tokyo Olympic torch relay made its way through Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park on Monday.

The segment is the latest in a growing list of torch relay events affected by an expanding state of emergency amid the surge in COVID-19 infections in Japan.

IOC President Thomas Bach was planning to come to Hiroshima to participate in Monday’s torch relay but his trip was postponed last week.

Using a closed park rather than public roads for the torchbearers was first used in Osaka prefecture last month. The prefectures of Fukuoka, Okayama, and Hyogo have also followed suit in taking the relay off public roads. All of the areas are part of the state of emergency currently in place until the end of the month.

The rise in infections is also creating an increase in the number of Japanese who are against holding the Olympics and Paralympics this summer.

An Asahi Shimbun poll released on Monday found 83 percent of voters either want the events postponed or cancelled.

The phone survey done over the weekend revealed 43 percent want it cancelled, up from 35 percent in April. Another 40 percent want it postponed, up from 34 percent last month.

Most telling, only 14 percent still want the Games to be held as scheduled this summer, down from 28 percent in April.

Support for Tokyo 2020 was slightly higher among those in Tokyo, with 21 percent wanting it to go ahead.

All of the major stakeholders have said for months that postponing the Games again is not an option.

A poll conducted by Kyodo News over the weekend did not give respondents the choice of postponing the Games.

This phone survey found 59.7 percent believe the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics should be cancelled, with 25.2 percent wanting the Games held without spectators and 12.6 wanting a limited number of spectators.

The increasing unpopularity of the Games, coupled with rising dissatisfaction for how the government is handing the pandemic, could play a key role in upcoming assembly elections for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. The official campaign period begins June 25 with the elections on July 4. The Olympics are scheduled to begin July 23.

Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko has so far supported holding the Games but that could change.

The Japan Times quotes a senior official in the metropolitan government as saying "there would be little surprise if she declares the cancellation" of the Olympics and Paralympics.

Another possibility, given the recent polling on the Games, is that Koike and her regional party could make cancelling the Olympics and Paralympics a campaign pledge.

The IOC has remained steadfast in its belief that there will be no stopping the Games from happening. But losing the support of one government stakeholder would seem to be all it would take to derail Tokyo 2020 for good.

Homepage photo: Tokyo 2020

Written by Gerard Farek

For general comments or questions,click here.

Your best source of news about the Olympics is, for subscribers only.