(ATR) Tokyo 2020 organizers take the offensive to explain plunging poll numbers amid soaring COVID-19 cases in Japan.
Mori, Muto, Coates, Bach and Japanese athletes at the Olympic Village in November. (Tokyo 2020)
Toshiro Muto, Tokyo 2020 CEO, was doing his best to spin the latest poll numbers in a favorable light during a New Year’s address to staff on Tuesday.
The two polls, released on Sunday, were conducted by news agency Kyodo and Tokyo Broadcasting System and had similar results. The TBS survey found only 13 percent of respondents were in favor of moving ahead with the Olympics and Paralympics beginning July 23. Those opposed numbered 81 percent, 18 points higher than a December survey.
Results of the Kyodo poll show just over 80 percent said cancel or postpone the Games. That number has grown from 63 percent in December.
“The number of people calling for it to be cancelled has only risen by about five percent,” Muto said in his address, as quoted in the Japan Times.
“The number of people calling for it to be postponed has risen a lot, but that means those people still want it to be held,” he added.
“Of course, for it to be held, we have to guarantee that we hold a safe games with anti-virus measures. If you think of it in those terms, I firmly believe people will get more and more behind it.”
Muto also dismissed as “fake news” a Japanese media report that the IOC and Tokyo 2020 organizers would be debating the fate of the postponed Games in February.
Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori reiterated on Tuesday that it was “absolutely impossible” to postpone the Games again, according to Kyodo.
Mori said another delay was not feasible because so many key Tokyo 2020 officials are on loan from other organizations, including the Tokyo metropolitan government.
Both Mori and Muto said a decision on whether overseas fans will be allowed to attend the Games will be made in February or March.
The Japanese government last week declared a state of emergency for Tokyo and three surrounding prefectures amid a surge in coronavirus cases.
Kyodo reports as many as seven additional prefectures will be added to the list on Wednesday, including Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo in western Japan. All three areas have been reporting record-high daily figures recently.
The Olympics are scheduled for July 23 to August 8, with the Paralympics following from August 24 to September 5.
Written by Gerard Farek
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