- More than 200,000 Japanese locals signed a petition to cancel the Tokyo Olympics.
- The petition garnered all of those signatures in just two days after launching.
- Japan extended its current state of emergency amid the ongoign COVID-19 pandemic on Friday.
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More than 240,000 Japanese citizens have signed a petition to cancel the Tokyo Olympics on change.org. The petition only launched Wednesday and garnered all those signatures just two days after going live.
Japanese lawyer Kenji Utsunomiya, who has run for governor of Tokyo multiple times, organized the petition. He cited the risk to the Japanese people and Olympics athletes that would come with holding The Games during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“With the circumstances that we are under, it is certainly unlikely that the Tokyo Olympics could be held safely,” Utsunomiya wrote in Japanese in the description of the petition. “The lack of medical resources that Tokyo and the rest of Japan is suffering from should suggest just how much the games will cause danger and fear to health care workers, citizens, and participants.”
The petition has garnered support faster than any other since the Japanese version of change.org launched in 2012. The current goal for the petition is set at 300,000 signatures, and it would need less than 58,000 to get there.
Utsunomiya said on Twitter that he hopes to compile as many signatures as possible before International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach visits Japan for a torch relay event on May 17. Bach is then scheduled to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga the next day.
-宇都宮けんじ (@utsunomiyakenji) May 5, 2021
By that time, Japan will still be under a national state of emergency after it was extended on Friday from its original end date of May 11 to May 31. The extension is intended to help slow down infections and ease the strain on hospitals, as the virus continues to spread at rapid rates in the country.
The number of daily coronavirus deaths hit a record 148 on Friday, with the nationwide tally of new cases topping 6,000, the most since mid-January. At least 1,131 COVID-19 patients were in serious condition, also a record high, according to the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
The state of emergency was initiated on April 26, which was applied to Tokyo, which is slated to be the main host city for the Olympics, and three other major cities. Restrictions include the barring of spectators from sports events.
The Olympics is scheduled to start on July 23, which is 53 days after the state of emergency is currently scheduled to end, but further COVID-19 spread and public dissaproval for the Olympics could render that start date obsolete.