Within the confines of the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, the postponed 2020 Olympics opened in a subdued, muted fashion. But outside of the stadium, public opposition to hosting the games in Japan could be heard loud and clear.
According to a report by Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle, Friday's opening ceremonies for the Olympics were met with a loud crowd of protesters in Tokyo. The protesters gathered in front of the southwestern corner of the stadium, timing their arrival to coincide with the beginning of the event.
The protests were audible during quiet moments within the Olympic Stadium, with protesters chanting phrases such as "Cancel the Olympics! Stop them immediately!" and "Go to Hell IOC!"
Even after being postponed a year from 2020, the Tokyo Olympics have proven to be enormously unpopular within Japan as the nation continues to deal with rising COVID-19 numbers. A recent poll conducted by Kyodo News showed that 87 percent of respondents expressed some concern about the Olympics being held, with 31 percent saying the games should be cancelled altogether.
The Olympics going ahead despite the pandemic, as well as the slow rollout of vaccines in Japan, have contributed to the discontent. In Kyodo News' poll, the approval rating for Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was an all-time low 35.9 percent, while his disapproval rating rose to 49.8 -- the highest such mark since Suga assumed office last September.
Japanese opposition to the Olympics has become so intense that some of the nation's most prominent companies have distanced themselves from the games. Earlier this week, Toyota Motor Corp. stated that it would not air television commercials during domestic broadcasts of the Olympics in order to prevent its brand image from being "tarnished."
Toyota Motor Corp. president Akio Toyoda did not attend Friday's opening ceremonies, with the presidents of other companies such as NEC Corp. and Fujitsu Ltd. following suit.