Half of the Japanese public think the 2020 Olympics will take place this summer, a survey by the Yomiuri daily newspaper showed on Monday, despite most people opposing holding the Games during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Olympics have already been postponed by a year amid concerns over how organisers can keep volunteers, athletes, officials and the Japanese public safe when they begin on July 23 after a fourth wave of infections.
Opposition lawmakers grilled Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and cabinet ministers in parliament on Monday over the decision to press ahead with the event after several polls showed the public was not in favour.
Top government officials repeatedly said that the government would continue to work on coronavirus measures for the “safe and secure” Games and that a decision on domestic spectators would be made this month. “Taking infection control measures for athletes and Games officials so athletes from the world can safely participate and to protect our people’s lives and health, I think that is the premise of holding (the Olympics),” Suga told lawmakers.
In a Yomiuri survey conducted from June 4-6, 50% of respondents said the Games would happen this summer; 26% said they would take place without spectators.
Some 48% said the event would be cancelled. But most of the respondents in the same poll said virus measures for athletes and participants were inadequate, while public support for the Suga administration hit its lowest level, at 37%.
Foreign spectators are already prohibited from the Olympics and Japanese may also be kept away from what organisers promise will be a sanitised “bubble” event to minimise contagion risk.