Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga wants to hold the Olympic Games in his country at all costs this year. Suga has good intentions, but can he still find support for his plan?
2020 was to be the year of the Summer Olympics in Japan. The corona virus threw a spanner in the works, but now Tokyo is aiming for this summer. Prime Minister Suga continues to receive a lot of criticism.
Because the figures of the coronavirus raise many questions when setting up a mass event such as the Olympic Games. On January 1, Japan recorded the highest number of new corona cases ever, more than 1,000 for the first time. And although Japan appears to be in control of the epidemic, all numbers are on the rise.
The population does not seem to agree to allow the Games to take place this year. According to the survey by the national statistics office, only 27 percent can be found for this year’s games. 31 percent wants to postpone them. A cancellation is preferred by 32 percent of the population.
Loss of vision
But not allowing the event to go ahead would be a blow to the Japanese government. In peacetime, the modern Olympic Games have always continued. For Suga, it means an immense loss of face if Tokyo has to give up.
Further adjustment does not seem possible either. A one-year delay means that the Summer and Winter Games will continue in the same year. Shifting for a few months means that the entire international sports calendar will be pushed. Not a good scenario either, in other words.
So there is little left for Suga to do but corona proof the Games. Planning the Olympic Games is in any case a substantial investment, which gets more expensive every year. But ensuring that athletes can get to and from their venue safely and also keep the stadiums corona-free requires an additional financial effort of some $ 3 billion.
The prime minister is therefore faced with tough choices. That being said, he should also get reelected in October, when elections are scheduled. If the numbers go in the wrong direction, a cancellation of the Games Suga could yield more than several billion.