Anti-Olympic petition gains tens of thousands of signatures

The petition was organized by Kenji Utsunomiya, and registered about 50,000 signatures in the first 24 hours after being launched.

The petition, addressed to IOC President Thomas Bach,suggested that the Olympics cannot be held safely and said the games had drained finances away for other needs-AP   -  AP

An online petition calling for the Tokyo Olympics to be canceled gained tens of thousands of signatures since being launched in Japan only days ago.

The petition was organized by Kenji Utsunomiya, a lawyer who has run several times for Tokyo governor. It registered about 50,000 signatures in the first 24 hours after being launched.

“Government policies are being set with the Olympics in mind, and measures to curb the coronavirus pandemic are being neglected,” Utsunomiya told The Associated Press.

“Hospital are stretched thin, and some people are dying at home.”

The headline in English over the petition read: “Cancel the Tokyo Olympics to protect our lives."

The petition, addressed to International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach who has tentative plans to visit Japan later this month,  suggested that the Olympics could not be held safely and said the games had drained finances away for other needs such as the roll out of a COVID-19 vaccine.

“In order to host the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in July, we must devote a large number of medical professionals, valuable resources such as medical facilities and medical equipment, and various other resources,” the petition said.

ALSO READ| Japan faces longer state of emergency, casting doubt on Olympics

The roll out of the petition comes with Tokyo, Osaka and several other areas under a state of emergency with coronavirus infections rising — particularly new variants. The state of emergency is to expire on May 11, but some reports in Japan say it is likely to be extended.

Although 70-80% of Japanese citizens in polls said they wanted the Olympics canceled or postponed, there was no indication this would happen.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Tokyo organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto, and Bach have repeatedly said the games would go on as scheduled.

Organizers and the IOC unveiled so-called Playbooks last week, explaining rules for athletes and others to show how the Olympics could be held in the middle of a pandemic.

Several test events have been conducted in the last few days, and organizers have reported few problems.

ALSO READ | World's oldest person pulls out of Tokyo Olympics torch relay

The Olympic torch relay has been crisscrossing Japan for a month. Organizers said that eight people working on the relay have tested positive for the virus.

For the IOC, the Tokyo Olympics are critical since 73% of its income comes from selling television rights. Organizers said the Olympics would be “safe and secure," though this has been challenged by local medial specialists.

It said mass events like the Olympics are “neither safe nor secure.” The postponed Olympics are to open in just under three months on July 23.

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