Jan 13, 2021

Poll finds 80% favor canceling or postponing Tokyo Olympics Featured

Around 80% of people in Japan believe the postponed Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics planned for the summer should be canceled or rescheduled with the novel coronavirus pandemic continuing to cast a cloud over the sporting event, a Kyodo News survey showed Sunday.

The weekend telephone survey was conducted as the nation is struggling with a resurgence of novel coronavirus cases that have increased the strain on the country’s medical system.

In the poll, 35.3% called for the cancellation of the Tokyo Games, while 44.8% said the event should be put off again. The games were slated to take place last year but were rescheduled due to the pandemic.

The approval rate for the Cabinet of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga stood at 41.3%, down 9 percentage points from the previous survey in December, with the disapproval rate at 42.8%.

The most commonly cited reason for disapproval, at 41.2%, was Suga’s “lack of leadership” over the pandemic.

The survey also found that 68.3% were dissatisfied with the coronavirus measures implemented by the government, while 24.9% said the government had dealt with the pandemic appropriately.

A monthlong state of emergency declared over the pandemic on Thursday, covering Tokyo and the adjacent prefectures of Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama, was viewed as “too late” by 79.2%, while nearly 78% said it needed to be expanded to other areas.

The poll found 39.8% viewed the length of the emergency, which will be in place until Feb. 7, as “adequate,” while 46.6% said the one-month time frame was “too short.”

Under the emergency declaration, dining establishments in the area have been asked to shorten opening hours.

Suga has said the government will submit a revision to the special measures law soon making it possible to punish businesses that refuse to comply with its requests.

In the survey, 48.7% opposed such punishment, while 42.7% were supportive.

The government previously declared a state of emergency covering Tokyo and six other prefectures in early April last year and expanded it to the country’s 47 prefectures later that month. It was lifted in steps in May as virus cases subsided.

The daily tally of coronavirus infections in Japan on Saturday topped 7,000 for the third day in a row.

The survey also found that 78.1% were dissatisfied with how Suga’s predecessor Shinzo Abe handled an allegation that his camp illegally used political funds to cover the costs of dinner functions for his supporters.

In December last year, a Tokyo court fined one of Abe’s state-paid secretaries for failing to keep legally required financial records related to the dinner functions.

The former prime minister, who had repeatedly denied any wrongdoing since the scandal came to light in November 2019, apologized for making what turned out to be false statements to parliament.

The survey, covering 715 randomly selected households with eligible voters and 1,274 mobile phone numbers, yielded responses from 521 and 520 people, respectively.