2020 Olympics: 78 percent of Japanese Oppose the Tokyo Games, Poll Reveals

With just over a week to go until the opening ceremony, almost eight in 10 Japanese people remain against the Olympic Games being held in Tokyo, a new poll has found.

According to an Ipsos Global Advisor poll released on Tuesday, 78 percent of respondents in Japan believe the Olympics should not go ahead.

Across the 28 countries surveyed by the poll, an average of 57 percent of respondents believes the Games should not be held this year.

The U.S. is one of seven countries in which more people—52 percent—think the Olympics should go ahead as planned.

In March 2020, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Tokyo 2020 organizers postponed the Games by 12 months because of the COVID pandemic.

With the exception of the two world wars, the Olympics have never been canceled since they began in their modern guise in 1896.

Public opposition in Japan has hardened over the past year, but the IOC has repeatedly ruled out the possibility of another postponement or cancellation.

With just nine days until the opening ceremony on July 23, it is now a fait accompli that the Games will go ahead as scheduled.

The Olympics, however, could be a far more muted affair than in the past and not just because events will be held behind closed doors and with no fans in attendance.

The Ipsos poll found only 46 percent of respondents across the 28 countries polled declared themselves as interested in the Olympics.

In the U.S., the percentage stood at 48 percent, lower than the 55 percent reported in India, South Africa, China and Poland, but considerable higher than in Japan, South Korea, France, Germany and Belgium, where only 35 percent of respondents said they were interested in the Olympics.

As of Wednesday morning, Japan had reported just over 825,000 cases of the coronavirus and more than 14,900 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

While the death tally from coronavirus is relatively contained compared to other nations, Japan has been hampered by a slow vaccine rollout.

As this graphic provided by Statista shows, Japan lags well behind other countries in the race to vaccinate its entire population, with only 8.7 percent of the population fully vaccinated as of July 3.

The Race Towards Full Vaccination
Share of the population fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of July 3, 2021. Statista

The coronavirus pandemic has been the main factor behind the unpopularity of the Olympics.

Even Japanese Emperor Naruhito expressed concerned about the Games going ahead.

"The emperor is extremely worried about the current status of coronavirus infections," Imperial Household Agency Grand Steward Yasuhiko Nishimura was quoted as saying by Kyodo News on June 24.

"Given the public's worries, he appears to be concerned about whether the event would cause infections to spread."

On Friday June 4, Japanese Olympic Committee 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.

"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."

Tokyo Olympic Games logo
A pedestrian walks past an official Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games banner on the Tokyo metropolitan government building on April 7. The Tokyo Olympics are due to begin on July 23. Yuki Iwamura/AFP/Getty Images