Petition to Cancel Tokyo Olympics Reaches 300K Signatures in 3 Days

A petition to cancel the Tokyo Olympics reached 300,000 signatures online in three days amid public opposition in Japan to holding the Summer Games in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the Associated Press reported.

But the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the organizers maintain that the Games will not be canceled and will be safe despite the opinion of between 60% to 80% of Japanese people who said the Olympics should be canceled or delayed, according to polls.

"Of course I would say I want the Olympics to happen, because I'm an athlete and that's sort of what I've been waiting for my entire life. But I think that there's so much important stuff going on, and especially the past year," Naomi Osaka, who will be one of Japan's representatives at the Games, said on Sunday. "I think a lot of unexpected things have happened and if it's putting people at risk, and if it's making people very uncomfortable, then it definitely should be a discussion, which I think it is as of right now."

IOC President Thomas Bach was supposed to visit Japan next Monday but canceled his trip due to rising COVID-19 cases, Tokyo's Olympic Organizing Committee announced on Monday.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Poster for Tokyo Olympics
A man with a child walks past a poster for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics along a street in Tokyo, Japan, on May 10, 2021. A petition calling for the Olympics in Tokyo to be canceled reached 300,000 signatures online in three days. Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images

Bach was to visit Hiroshima next Monday and meet the torch relay and then probably travel to Tokyo.

Organizing Committee President Seiko Hashimoto said last week that the trip would be "tough" for Bach to make, which was interpreted in Japan as meaning it would be canceled.

The trip was made impossible because of a state of emergency in Tokyo and other parts of the country that has been extended until May 31. The state of emergency was to have ended on Tuesday.

The statement said Bach's visit would be made "as soon as possible."

The postponement is an embarrassment to the IOC and local organizers with the Olympics opening in just over 10 weeks.

Japan has attributed 11,000 deaths to COVID-19, better than many countries, but poor for Asia. Variants of the virus are spreading with reports of public health systems coming under pressure.

A small protest against the Olympics on Sunday in Tokyo drew only 100 people.

Other voices are also rising up against the Olympics. On Monday, the leader of Japan's main opposition party said it was not possible to safely hold the Games.

"I think it is possible that the measures our nation takes to protect human life and livelihoods simply will not make it possible to hold the Olympics," said Yukio Edano, head of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan. "In that situation, the IOC and Tokyo city government will have to make a decision, and the government will back that."

Also on Monday, Japan's Kyodo news agency reported that Hyogo prefecture will take the torch relay off public streets. This would be at least the fifth time the torch has been rerouted. The relay began March 25 in northeastern Japan.

IOC President Thomas Bach
IOC President Thomas Bach, on a screen, waves to Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee President Seiko Hashimoto at the start of a five-party meeting of Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, on April 28, 2021. Bach has canceled a trip to Japan because of surging cases of COVID-19 in the country. Franck Robichon/Pool Photo via AP