The Asahi Shimbun is one of the most prestigious and widely circulated newspapers in Japan. The Asahi Shimbun is also an official partner of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and it decided to join the many voices that are critical of the Olympics. Now, the Asahi Shimbun is calling for the games to be cancelled.
The newspaper’s decision to voice its objection comes as Japan continues to struggle with its fourth wave, Osaka being in a particularly perilous situation as hospitals overflow and the medical system nears collapse. It is not uncommon to read about cases where people died at home because they were unable to go to a hospital.
Numbers in Japan are also widely unreported. There are many private clinics in Japan that conduct testing, but they are not recognized by the government. As a result, people who tested positive after going to one of these clinics would have to go to a certified clinic to get a result that the government would actually count. Because of this, the actual numbers in Japan could be far bigger since there is no guarantee that infected people would risk going out again just to get a second test.
The Asahi Shimbun is not the only prominent voice against the Olympics. Masayoshi Son, the CEO of SoftBank has also expressed his opposition, and health specialists wrote in a medical journal that the Olympic Committee’s plans to ensure the safety of athletes was not enough to protect people. What’s more, recent polls have found that 60 to 80 percent of the Japanese public want the Olympic Games to be cancelled or delayed.
Even investors have talked about the benefits of cancelling the Olympics despite the finances and monetary losses being the primary reason some people and politicians are so adamant that the Olympics need to be held as planned. Due to the ongoing pandemic and the many risks of hosting the Olympics, an increasing number of investors now thinks that cancelling the games is the better scenario for Japan.
Adding fuel to the flames, the government started trimming trees at places like Yoyogi Park and Inokashira Park to prepare viewing venues for the Olympics. The decision to trim the trees has left residents furious due to the irreversible damage to the trees and parks, and since the viewing events could end up being cancelled anyway if the country continues struggling to contain COVID-19 cases.
The government’s inaction when handling the COVID-19 pandemic, its slow vaccine rollout, and its insistence on holding the Olympics has also resulted in Suga’s approval is at a record low of only 33 percent; and with general elections in October, Suga’s party could face losses and a new Prime Minister could be appointed.