French world road race champion Julian Alaphilippe will skip the Olympic road race for personal reasons, he said on Friday.
“After giving it a lot of thought, I have decided, after agreeing with the national coach and my Deceuninck-Quick Step team, not to make myself available for selection for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics,” Alaphilippe wrote on Instagram.
“It is a personal, well-considered decision,” added the 28-year-old, who is becoming a father next month.
Alaphilippe, who was fourth in the Olympic road race in 2016, will however be at the start of the Tour de France on June 26 in Brest.
An online petition calling for the cancellation of the Tokyo Olympics that has garnered over 350 000 signatures was submitted to the Tokyo governor by the campaign organiser on Friday.
Lawyer Kenji Utsunomiya who launched the “Stop Tokyo Olympics” petition last week visited the Tokyo Government office to submit the petition.
Utsunomiya who urged Tokyo to make an effort to convince the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to cancel the Olympics also sent the petition to the IOC and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).
“I’m happy I was able to express my opinion”, said 48-year-old office worker Hiroko Hatano who signed the petition.
Public opposition to the Games has been growing as Japan faces a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections just 10 weeks before the event.
Japan will add three more prefectures later on Friday to join Tokyo, Osaka, and four other prefectures under a COVID-19 state of emergency until May 31.