Kaori Yamaguchi, one of the most well-known Olympians from Japan, says Tokyo has been "cornered" about holding the games. She said the International Olympic Committee, the Japanese government and local organizers are disregarding the wide concern coming from many regarding the safety of the games, as the coronavirus pandemic remains an issue in the world and specifically in the country.
At the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Yamaguchi won a bronze medal in judo.
Polls and surveys have come out since the Olympics and Paralympics were rescheduled from 2020 to 2021 and the data is shows a majority of the Japanese public does not support the country holding the games.
Yamaguchi said (via The Associated Press):
"We have been cornered into a situation where we cannot even stop now. We are damned if we do, and damned if we do not. The IOC also seems to think that public opinion in Japan is not important. What will these Olympics be for, and for whom? The games have already lost meaning and are being held just for the sake of them. I believe we have already missed the opportunity to cancel."
While changes are being made to the games in an attempt to make them safer, the concern is still very prevalent and some think they are not doing enough.
Kengo Sakurada, head of the association of corporate executives in Japan, said, "Many people are feeling extremely uneasy about the safety of holding the Olympics. Even if the infections slowed, no fans should be the rule."
Pushing back the games and making safety changes have come at a price. Japan has spent $15.4 billion so far and it could be double that number, according to the Olympics. It is estimated that if the games are canceled broadcast income losses could be in the billions.
Despite pushback, the International Olympic Committee says barring a catastrophe, the Olympics will go on as scheduled.