Olympian Yamaguchi says Japan has ‘turned the corner’ in holding the Games

Kaori Yamaguchi said the International Olympic Committee, the government and local organizers were ignoring the Japanese public’s widespread opposition to the Games.

“We are stuck in a situation where we cannot even stop now. “We are damned if we do this, and damned if we don’t,” Yamaguchi wrote in an editorial published by Japan’s Kyodo News Agency. “The IOC also feels that public opinion is not important in Japan.”

Yamaguchi won a bronze medal in judo at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and is also a former world champion. She teaches at the University of Tsukuba.

“What will these Olympics be for, and for whom?” He asked. “The games have already lost meaning and are being held just for them. I believe we have already missed the opportunity to cancel.”

Japan has officially spent $15.4 billion to organize the Tokyo Olympics, and government audits say it could be double that.

Switzerland-based IOC derives about 75% of its proceeds from selling broadcast rights. Its income has stagnated since the Tokyo Olympics’ one-year postponement, and is estimated to lose $3 billion-$4 billion in broadcast income if the Games were cancelled.

Fans from abroad for the Tokyo Olympics have already been banned.

At his weekly briefing on Friday, organizing committee chairman Seiko Hashimoto said organizers would follow government guidance if there were any local fans. The decision was expected on 20 June when the current state of emergency in Tokyo was ending.

Kengo Sakurada, head of the union of corporate executives in Japan, said on Thursday that no fans should be allowed.

“Many people are feeling extremely uneasy about the security of holding the Olympics,” he said. “Even if the transition is slow, there should be no fan rule.”

Hashimoto was asked if the Olympics were 100% certain. The IOC and the organizers have said they will and are now preparing the venue for the July 23 Olympics.

Senior IOC member Richard Pound said last week that “Armageddon” would be needed to stop the Games.

IOC vice-president John Coates said several weeks ago that the Olympics would go ahead if a state of emergency occurred.

Hashimoto defended, slightly.

Hashimoto said, “Whether it is 100% or not, well, I keep getting this question several times.” “If the IOC judge and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government judge, that it is difficult, then it is also our mission to respond. Such a decision.”

He also said that the visit of IOC President Thomas Bach, which was announced by Coates on 12 July, was now uncertain.

“Nothing is decided,” she said.

Bach’s scheduled visit to Hiroshima in May was canceled because of a state of emergency in many parts of Japan.

The IOC plans to bring 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes from more than 200 countries and territories to Tokyo, place them in a bubble in the Olympic Village, let them compete, and then fly them out of Japan within two days of their finish.

Thousands of others will also enter: coaches, judges, officials, broadcasters, the media and members of the so-called Olympic family.

“Sports is a huge industry as we know it now,” Hashimoto said. “But even with these industrialized sports, there are athletes, pure athletes who are doing everything to prepare for these games. For us, providing an arena to show these athletes what they are doing is another mission of the Tokyo Olympics.”

Dr. Shigeru Omi, a top medical adviser to the Japanese government and former regional director of the World Health Organization, is mounting pressure on Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to explain why the Olympics should take place.

Speaking at a parliamentary session on Thursday, he said, “It is unusual for the Games to be stopped amid the pandemic.” On Friday, also in parliament, he said holding the Olympics “should be avoided” if there was still a state of emergency.

“It’s important that we don’t let the Olympics slow down the flow of people,” Omi said on Friday.

Japan has attributed nearly 13,000 deaths to COVID-19, and less than 3% of the population has been fully vaccinated in a very slow rollout.


Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi contributed to this report.


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