An official partner of the Tokyo Olympics has joined the growing chorus for the Games to be cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns.
Japan’s Asahi Shimbun, an official partner of the Tokyo Olympicshas cited risks to public safety and strains on the medical system from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We ask Prime Minister (Yoshihide) Suga to calmly and objectively assess the situation and decide on the cancellation of the event this summer,” the national newspaper said in an editorial published on Wednesday.
Much of Japan, including Games host city, Tokyo, remains under a third state of emergency that is widely expected to be extended beyond this month.
Poll after poll has shown the majority of the public is opposed to holding the Olympics this summer, concerned about tens of thousands of athletes and officials descending on a country that has mostly remained closed to foreigners since last year.
By early morning on Wednesday, “Decision to cancel”, taken from the title of the Asahi newspaper’s editorial, had garnered more than 21,000 tweets.
“Finally, one of the top sponsors – the Asahi Shimbun – has written an editorial for Olympics cancellation,” tweeted @KaiserAndDragon.
A professor of public health and adviser to the New Zealand government said on Tuesday there was no justification for holding the Olympics during a pandemic, arguing to go ahead would be ‘absurd’ and cost lives.
Otago University professor Michael Baker, who specialises in epidemiology, told Reuters the Games should be cancelled.
“I think it is absurd to have the Olympics at the present time,” he said.
Tokyo is due to host the games from July 23 to August 8 after they were already postponed a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.