Japanese Olympic Official Dies After Jumping in Front of Train Ahead of Games

A senior Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) official died after jumping in front of a train just over a month before the opening ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police is investigating the death of Yasushi Moriya, which it's treating as an apparent suicide, according to private Japanese broadcaster Nippon Television.

The incident took place at about 9:30 a.m. local time on Monday morning (8:30 p.m. ET on Sunday) at Nakanobu Station on the Toei Asakusa Line in Tokyo's Shinagawa Ward, the broadcaster reported, citing police sources.

Moriya's death comes just over a month before Tokyo is scheduled to hold the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games on July 23, exactly a year on from when the Games were scheduled to begin.

The 52-year-old, who was the director of the JOC's accounting department, is alleged to have stepped off the platform in front of the train and was identified from his ID card. Emergency services took him to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead a few hours later.

In March last year, the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo organizers postponed the Games by 12 months because of the COVID pandemic.

While the IOC remains adamant the Games will go ahead, public opposition in Japan has hardened over the past year.

Japan's death tally from coronavirus is relatively contained compared to other nations—as of Monday morning, Japan had reported just over 763,000 cases of the coronavirus and more than 13,500 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University—but large parts of the country remain in a state of emergency.

Japan has been hampered by a painfully slow vaccine rollout. About 3 percent of adults in the country have been fully vaccinated.

As this graphic provided by Statista shows, Japan lags well behind other countries in the race to vaccinate its entire population.

Vaccine rollout across the world
A graphic illustrating the race towards full vaccination in countries across the world. Statista

Last week, JOC executive board member Kaori Yamaguchi claimed the "Olympic Games have lost meaning" and questioned the IOC's resolve to hold the event this summer.

"At the time of the bid, the IOC said that public opinion is important, but now it is clear that even if it concerns the IOC, it has no impact on its decisions," she wrote in a scathing editorial published by Kyodo News on Friday.

Yamaguchi then accused the IOC of "cornering" Japan into hosting the Olympics and acknowledged it was too late to cancel the Games.

"What will these Olympics be for and for whom?" she continued.

"The Games have already lost meaning and are being held just for the sake of them. I believe we have already missed the opportunity to cancel.

"It would require too much energy to make and follow through with such a decision. We have been cornered into a situation where we cannot even stop now.

"We are damned if we do, and damned if we do not."

Yamaguchi's criticism came just days after the organizing committee admitted 10,000 of the 80,000 volunteers who had signed up to help during the Games and Paralympic Games have quit.

Last month, IOC vice president John Coates insisted that the Olympics would go ahead "even if Tokyo is still under a state of emergency," during a virtual news conference with Tokyo organizers.

Weeks later, the Asahi Shimbun—a liberal newspaper and an official Olympic partner—called for Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to listen to widespread public opposition and "calmly and objectively assess the situation and decide on the cancelation of the event this summer."

Tokyo 2020 Olympics logos
The emblems of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games are displayed during an unveiling event for the victory ceremonies' items for the Olympic and Paralympic games at the Ariake Arena on June 3 in Tokyo, Japan. The 2020 Games are scheduled to begin on July 23. Issei Kato/Pool/Getty Images