Nearly everything that could go wrong seemingly has so far for the Tokyo Olympics, and the threat that they might not even happen still lingers.
A powerful politician, Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai, floated the possibility that the games could still be canceled — three months before they are set to begin.
Asked if cancelation is still on the table, Nikai was unambiguous: “Of course. If the Olympics are going to be the factor causing COVID to spread extensively, then what are we holding the Games for?”
Canceling the games appears to have broad public support in Japan.
- 40% of the population favors canceling the games, and another 33% thinks they should be postponed, according to a recent poll by Kyodo News.
- COVID-19 cases have risen to around 3,200 per day, up from around 1,000 per day in early March.
- Only about 1.4% of the population has been vaccinated, according to official figures — one of the lowest rates in the developed world.
Postponing the games, originally scheduled for 2020, cost the International Olympic Committee an estimated $800 million, and the total cost of the games could be around $25 billion.
“I want the games to succeed, but to do so there are a lot of issues that need to be resolved,” Nikai said. “If it seems impossible, it needs to be stopped.”