Protest in Tokyo Minutes Before Olympics Opening Ceremony

Protests have taken place outside Tokyo's National Stadium ahead of the Olympic opening ceremony, with hundreds opposing the competition taking place amid rising COVID-19 cases.

Images and videos show protesters marching down the street and chanting during the anti-Olympics rally in the Japanese capital.

The large crowd gathered outside Harajuku station on Friday, before making their way to the stadium.

"Olympic protesters have shut down one of the busiest roads in Tokyo, in Harajuku. Police are clearing the road for them and yelling into megaphones asking passersby to make way for protesters," tweeted Washington Post reporter Michelle Ye Hee Lee while sharing videos of the march.

“Go to hell, IOC,” “go to hell, Olympics” with 30 minutes to go until the opening ceremony pic.twitter.com/A4SmV3s9JF

— Michelle Ye Hee Lee (@myhlee) July 23, 2021

Olympic protesters have shut down one of the busiest roads in Tokyo, in Harajuku. Police are clearing the road for them and yelling into megaphones asking passersby to make way for protesters pic.twitter.com/xkSVNY7Cdj

— Michelle Ye Hee Lee (@myhlee) July 23, 2021

One protester carried a placard which said "IOC [the International Olympic Committee] is greedy like a devil," with others reading "Olympians are selfish like a child," "Tokyo Olympics are shame of the world," and "Refuse the Olympic Games!"

Despite the protests, thousands of other people gathered outside the stadium to show their support for the Games. The opening ceremony is performed in a largely empty stadium, with fewer than 1,000 VIP guests invited to attend the event.

There will also be no spectators at any of the events through the Games due to the pandemic.

There have been calls for weeks for the already postponed Games to be canceled amid the rise of COVID cases in Tokyo and elsewhere across the world.

Tokyo recorded 1,979 new COVID cases on Thursday, one day before the Olympics began, the highest figure since January 15.

At least 106 people linked to the Games have already had tested positive for the virus.

Earlier this week, the chief of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee said they are not ruling out canceling the Games as more athletes pulled out after testing positive for COVID.

"We will continue discussions if there is a spike in cases," Toshiro Muto said during a press conference on Tuesday.

"We have agreed that based on the coronavirus situation, we will convene five-party talks again. At this point, the coronavirus cases may rise or fall, so we will think about what we should do when the situation arises."

According to a recent survey by the Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun, 55 percent of people in Japan do not support the Olympics taking place, with only 21 percent saying that the Games can be "safe and secure."

In Tokyo, only 30 percent of those taking part in the survey said they supported the expressed Game compared to 58 percent who said they oppose holding them.

The opening ceremony for the delayed 2020 Olympics began at 8 p.m. Tokyo time (7 a.m. ET).

tokyo olympics protest
Police officers stand in front of protestors (not seen) protesting against the Olympic games outside the Olympic Stadium ahead of the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images