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Uncertainty on Olympic Torch in Japan

Tokyo: This is the second state of emergency in Japan. This time people believe it will be more difficult than the previous one. Perhaps it’s impossible to host the Olympic Games safely.

Early in March 2020, the Japanese government and International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to postpone the Tokyo Olympics by one year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Olympics is slated to start in less than 200 days and run from July 23rd to August 8.

However, a December poll by public broadcaster NHK showed a third of Japanese residents want the Games to be scrapped due to fears an influx of foreign arrivals may cause a further spike in COVID-19 cases. In the same poll, 31% of respondents favoured another delay, while only 27% said the Olympics should go ahead as scheduled.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga reiterated on Thursday his intention to hold the Games.

“I think it’s difficult. It’s impossible to hold the Olympics,” said 75-year-old Tatsuhiko Akamasu, who was visiting Tokyo on Friday from nearby Saitama.

“It’s only two and a half months until the torch relay. I don’t think we can get the virus under control during this period.”

The 121-day torch relay, which normally heralds the countdown to the Olympic Games, will begin in Fukushima on March 25, an anticipated date as it was shortly before the event was due to start last year that the postponement decision was made.

“I think it is more likely that we won’t hold the Olympics, and I would rather the government make the decision at some point to cancel it,” said 74-year-old Hisashi Miyabe.

Over 15,000 athletes from across the world are expected to descend on Tokyo for the Games, leading to concerns they may bring new mutations of the virus to Japan.

“I think the interaction between people will cause further spread of the coronavirus, and it is more likely that the virus may mutate if the infection numbers are increasing. I feel that is a bit scary,” said 23-year-old student Yuki Furusho.

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