Workers place the overlay on the wall of the National Stadium, where the opening ceremony and many other events are scheduled for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Photo: AP/Eugene Hoshiko
tokyo 2020 olympics

JOC board member blasts Tokyo Games organizers, IOC

By Chang-Ran Kim

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A Japanese Olympic Committee board member on Friday blasted organizers of the Tokyo Games for ignoring public concerns about holding the global sporting showpiece amid a pandemic, as Japan's top medical adviser urged new steps to reduce the risk.

A Japanese Olympic Committee board member now?? WOW! Who else is left? It seems that the LDP and IOC are the only ones left not criticizing the holding of the event

40 ( +42 / -2 )

Obviously there is a political background for the declarations but good for Yamaguchi to raise her voice, it would have been better if she did it before the country "missed the opportunity to cancel" as she says.

34 ( +38 / -4 )

It's good that Yamaguchi is speaking up, and Omi seems to be frustrated with the feeble Suga puppet.

But how exactly do you 'miss the opportunity to cancel or postpone'? The situation calls for it, Suga and co. should take the necessary action.

It's like a deer hunter taking aim but realizing it's another hunter, and just shrugging and saying 'Well I've taken aim now, so....'

37 ( +38 / -1 )

It's like a deer hunter taking aim but realizing it's another hunter, and just shrugging and saying 'Well I've taken aim now, so....'

how is it anything like that?

anyway good on him for speaking up, hopefully more will follow

-9 ( +3 / -12 )


Someone spoke up!

16 ( +18 / -2 )

JOC's Kaori Yamaguchi said in an opinion piece carried by Japan's Kyodo news agency.

Ms Yamaguchi has for long been dissent and vocal in the JOC circle. Still remarkable it is, but it's not really a "new" news. She hasn't changed her position.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Prime Minister Suga, who has seen his voter support eroded by dissatisfaction with the response to the pandemic, has said that successfully hosting a "safe and secure" Games would "bring hope and courage to the world."

Did Suga make up this garbage to say himself or did someone write it for him over at Nippon Kaigi or IOC?

18 ( +20 / -2 )

I’m sorry for this comitee and all the unions,associations,scientists and even common people that are criticizing and opposing such system.

They are nothing to them,for LDP/Nippon Kaigi only saving face and profit are important.

The Olympics will be held no matter what.

But these people can change the attitude of their country in the next election removing these old boys.

14 ( +17 / -3 )

Shame on you Ms Yamaguchi. Olympic will lift the spirit of the nation and provide light and hope in the post darkness of covid. Please be heartful.

-34 ( +4 / -38 )

Olympics won’t have any change on infections, with everywhere packed and no regard for soe or s/ distancing we won’t see a change, and even if there is the j gov will hide the numbers anyways. We’re all mushrooms kept in the dark and fed on nothing but bull crap.

14 ( +17 / -3 )

Is the main concern about the Olympics being held, the worry that Japan as a nation hasn't been vaccinated as fast as other Western countries? Sure there is concern about bringing in more variants but what about all the other major sporting events happening right now and in the coming weeks around the world. Euro 2020 Soccer tournament is about to kick off this month in cities all across Europe, the NBA playoffs going on right now, French Open just started, baseball in full swing both here and in US, so why can't Tokyo pull off a successful Olympics? These athletes and their coaches are tested daily, sometimes twice a day. Are we not seeing that these events are being done in other places without issues? I am not pro Olympics or anything like that but all I see on this website is constant bashing and neverending doom and gloom surrounding anything Olympics related. To me I think they are doing everything they can to make it as safe as possible for everyone, as strict as Japan has been with their borders the last year and a half, I would think the measures being implemented for the Olympics will be just as strict, at a minimum. Just my two cents.

-17 ( +8 / -25 )

Correct, they are wayyy past the point of cancelation! Keep moving forward making the best of what you can. There has been enough fear mongering here. If you don't like it, stay in your little apartment and don't go outside. There isn't THOUSANDS of people falling over dead on the streets in Japan is there?

-25 ( +3 / -28 )

Roblib maybe you miss the point that in the aforementioned counties they vaccinated half of more of their populations which Japan is still at 4%?

So yeah in Europe they can hold football events like in North America their great sports.

17 ( +18 / -1 )

Yamaguchi san has consistently shown she has integrity and courage. She has always been critical but, also offered solutions but she was ignored. She has my full backing and support.

What she does deserves the first gold medal. I salute you Yamaguchi San. Her most likely reward will be that she will be forever blacklisted but we should not and can not allow that.She must get our unconditional support

15 ( +15 / -0 )

William that was my first question, seems that is what people are overly concerned about and to me I think that's a little silly because having wide spread vaccinated population doesn't guarantee you won't still get it. Keep in mind the athletes coming into Japan will definitely be vaccinated as will their entourage, as small as those will be, and almost no foreign fans. At the same time Japan is working on getting the public vaccinated, so again I see two steps in the right direction to try and make things as safe as possible, not perfect but nothing is right. Sure there have been some stuff-ups along the way with tournament management and stuff but at this point in time I think they are turning the corner and seeing some light at the end of the dark tunnel, so I am trying to stay cautiously optimistic.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )


Simian Lane:

'let the virus run riot. anything beats this lousy repeat-limbo'

'run it’s natural course, rather'

'even sickness is better than spineless'

Very insensitive words to say the least with all the pain and suffering people are enduring here and abroad. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but this is surely stepping across boundaries of civility?

14 ( +18 / -4 )

Just stop it. Actually do something

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Suga should definitely hold a snap election after the Olympics. I’d suggest around 6-8 weeks after.

Bang in the middle of the inevitable virus surge, collapsing hospital system and birth of the Tokyo Olympics variant.

Although I hope none of that comes to pass, this guy needs to be held to account for ignoring the people who voted him in and the scientific advisors he’s paid to listen to.

10 ( +12 / -2 )


Keep in mind the athletes coming into Japan will definitely be vaccinated as will their entourage, as small as those will be, and almost no foreign fans. At the same time Japan is working on getting the public vaccinated, so again I see two steps in the right direction

1) Not all athletes will be vaccinated (please see IOC press statements for details).

2) Still only a small % of people in Japan will have been vaccinated by the start of the games (please see Japanese Gvt' press statements for details).

Your in possession of inaccurate info. Time to do so some fact checking.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

"I believe we have already missed the opportunity to cancel ... 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."

Huh? That’s “ledge logic” isn’t it?

When one is standing on a ledge pondering a leap, it is not a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

It’s actually a very simple decision. Not to leap is a much more healthier decision than taking the plunge.

Why do the LDP never miss an opportunity on revealing they are utterly devoid of simple logic and leadership.

I guess I am not going to get a refund on my prepaid Olympic event tickets. By the time the LDP make a decision on the Games, they will have passed by and I will be accused of not attending the locked out stadium.

Just wait until the next election. And we all get to vote LDP again.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

What took so long for the JOC to speak up? Were they asleep at the wheel this whole time?

6 ( +7 / -1 )


Hope is not a plan!

There is no way these games will be cancelled or postponed again. It’s all about the money invested. 90% of Japanese businesses believed they were gonna get rich from the Olympics and a lot of them invested in big expansions. Now, a lot of them have gone bankrupt. The Tokyo and federal governments have also invested heavily. The games will go ahead regardless of the potential consequences.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

There isn't THOUSANDS of people falling over dead on the streets in Japan is there?

13200+, though most of those died in hospital or at home waiting for a hospital bed.

So long as people don't die in the streets, it's OK?

19 ( +22 / -3 )

As I stated before, I will remain cautiously optimistic about this and hope they can pull it off. People who are working within the games and facilities all know the risk they are taking and are offered no guarantees, as well as the athletes, so everyone already knows what they are walking into and are accepting the potential risks. As for myself, I have been in Japan since March of 2020 when the whole pandemic basically started kicking off all over the world. I have made 2 return trips to the US, stayed 2 months and then another time stayed 3 weeks there. My son here has not had to miss hardly any school, maybe a few weeks back in April of last year, at the same time I go out everyday to stores and restaurants, hang out with friends and family routinely, play tennis a couple times a week, go biking a few times a week, and all this while NOT BEING VACCINATED (WOW IMAGINE THAT!) I wear a mask all the time, I use hand sanitizer all the time, I keep distance from people I don't know, and I don't frequent places that are small, enclosed, and with poor ventilation. I have not contracted the virus to date and I pray I never do and I hope the same for everyone, everywhere. Life goes on people, vaccines or not, stop drinking the media's fear punch. Be cautious, be safe, and manage your own risks you take. That is all we can do. Good luck to the Olympics and all involved, I will watch from my living room.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

Hear!! Hear!!!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

13200+, though most of those died in hospital or at home waiting for a hospital bed.

Do the math and tell me what percentage of the population that is.

-11 ( +1 / -12 )

I see the IOC's regular propaganda guys were failing so now they hired a new one, this one is going the other method instead off "everything is fine" "IOC promised" " IOC are honorable, ect..."

This new one is insults and attempts at bullying.

Is that you Pound or Coates?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

It is 13,200 people who most probably would still have liked to be living now, and most probably 10,000’s of their friends and relatives wanted them alive too.

7 ( +8 / -1 )


So long as people don't die in the streets, it's OK?

Well we knew that from the IOC and its supporters.

"IOC member Dick Pound said that, “barring Armageddon,” the games will be held."

The above says it all.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Well Prime Minister, hope and courage won’t make up for the income many people have lost.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Roblib, your comments are reasonable; much more reasoned than most commentators here.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Prime Minister Suga, who has seen his voter support eroded by dissatisfaction with the response to the pandemic, has said that successfully hosting a "safe and secure" Games would "bring hope and courage to the world."

"Hope and courage". The J version of "thoughts and prayers".

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The Olympics in scope are well beyond the other sporting and athletic events taking place in other locales - in size and and the number of countries participating. Venues range far and wide and are not concentrated in one stadium. There is no apt comparison. Upwards of 100,000 individuals will be involved in the games, more so 250,000. Those are vectors for the spread of the virus.

Not everyone will be immunized.

Australia, which sent its softball team to Japan, as a Coates engineered PR stunt - in Australia, only 2% have been vaccinated and viral infections are on the rise.

As for any individual declaring & celebrating their rather self-indulgent & arrogant behavior, socializing (the number one cause for infections) and declaring it is okay, alongside ignoring very certain protocols, reflects a very 'American' entitled & privileged attitude. Declaring that those who work or participate in the Olympics know the risk is simply tone-deaf. Apparently, the one year in Japan has not resulted in a respect for the culture and its manners & customs.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

oh my the corruption of it all.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The Jgov's own medical advisor is saying the giver and IOC haven't listened to his or anyone elses.

He expressed frustration that public health guidance, including his, was not reaching the IOC.

But then the IOC doesn't care two bits and Pound said as much by saying:

Barring Armageddon that we can't see or anticipate, these things are a go,"

So basically the IOC isn't listening to the people of the experts.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Mr Omi is perfectly correct, we must not have the Olympics.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

@RichardG you can go ahead and tag me if you feel like commenting on my previous comments, this is all a healthy and much needed debate. Without further getting into the rights and wrongs about holding the Olympics, I'll clarify some baseless assumptions you might have about me. I've lived in Japan 6+ years actually and this is my second time living here, first time was in Tokyo, now Nagoya. My wife is Japanese, I speak Japanese fairly well, 95% of my friends are Japanese, and I have a son in elementary school here. I completely respect Japanese culture and follow their rules to the T. My activities I mentioned before happen to be carried on primarily with other Japanese. Don't generalize or categorize people just because they hail from a country you may not have a great opinion of, the US has many flaws, I am well aware of that and enjoy my life here in Japan which is why I am pretty much permanent here now and have built a house for my family to stay for the long haul. If you choose to buy into the media fear and isolate yourself from society then please go ahead, I rather live my life best I can under the current situation following all the precautions I can and rules and expectations that my host country has put in place, as do my immediate Japanese family and my Japanese friends. By the way, I was a big Oasis fan back in the 90s, saw them live in Barcelona, rock on!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

This is going to be the BIGGEST embarassment for the country of Japan. The games will be a farce, and the citizens will be left with the bill while the government continue to ask what went wrong when they knew holding the games wouldn't be right.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

If only the LDP has Yamaguchi's courage, we wouldn't be in this mess. Time to clean house and Send Suga and his cronies packing.

1 ( +2 / -1 )


I have been here for over 30 years, raised 2 both now in their 20s both Japanese school all the way both university grads one with a master's degree. I am a traditional craftsman in a Japanese culture heritage craft.

My children's mid 90s grandparents have put the situation like this.

"In 1945 the government was prepared to sacrifice us over national pride, now that we are old they are again willing to do the same"

They cannot see their grandchildren because they are still not Vaccinated and their appointment isn't until mid July.

My daughter's company has already had 4 people test positive for covid.

This is not how they expected the last few years of their lives to be and much of it is due to incompetence of the government.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Govt. be like “why should we listen to a Japanese woman who succeeded in one of the most traditional Japanese sports when we can listen to arrogant, clueless western geriatrics?”

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I did see that part, I've had a few friends in the US have people in their office get Covid too, they basically sent those people home, closed the office for a couple weeks while everyone did work from home, had the office professionally cleaned, and then two weeks later everyone was back at the office basically. Sorry to hear you lost family that's very sad and of course I don't think lightly of that at all. My point is I don't think we can go back to the days of complete lockdown and isolation, I just don't see it happening anywhere again. This Covid isn't over yet by a long shot but we are learning to live with it and getting everyone vaccinated will help that too. The Olympics can happen and again, I think Japan and the IOC will do everything they can to make it as safe as possible. One last thing, the slow rollout of vaccines here is actually not any mistake by the Japanese government. Vaccines were made a while back in the US and in the UK basically, some in China and Russia too but no comment there. The quantities that were made were limited initially so the allotments went to the countries where the need was the biggest based on number of cases. At that time, Japan's cases were very low compared to the rest of the world therefore the demand here for vaccines was quite low which is why the government did not immediately secure large allotments of them. Now there are more vaccines available from US and UK so Japan has been ordering them as much as possible which is why we are behind countries like US and in Europe, but again not any deliberate wrongful action by the government. Taiwan too, did fantastic with controlling the cases early on but did not secure any vaccines, so now their cases are spiking and also they are behind on giving vaccines to their people. They didn't do anything wrong they just had no need for the vaccines compared to a place like Brazil or UK 3-4 months ago, which is why they didn't order any. They will eventually get them though, just like Japan has.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga faces a general election and a ruling party leadership race this year, and pulling off the Games, with an estimated budget of $15.4 billion, is seen as critical to keeping his job.

I don’t see how forcing an unwilling populace to host and conduct a huge sporting (entertainment) event can be interpreted as critical for the PM to keep his job. I think stepping up and forcing the IOC to stand down would be welcomed by the voters and increase his support. Delay it another year and if the IOC balks tell them to stuff it.

It’s never too late to do the right thing.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Here's a plan to swing the pendulum back to more respect toward the public viewpoint:

Don't watch the Olympics on TV to draw down the ratings to nothing.

Don't buy anything from the sponsors of the events or on TV.

Don't attend any events.

Don't volunteer.

Don't buy any omiyage.

Vote out the LDP.

Vote out the Tokyo mayor.

The IOC and the Suga government are acting like dictators.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I've seen some of the offices, where the Olympic staff works. No social distance whatsoever. Tens of people crammed in the offices, with just some makeshift plastic dividers (the size of a4) between them. Everyone just believing, or forced to believe in, the "magic masks" to protect them. No tests (not even when colleagues are proven to be positive for covid), no vaccines.

And no power to change things, because orders come from the top tier levels. Where's the protection for the staff, TOC & IOC, I ask, once, again?

The staff members should each sue TOC - not if, but when, they get sick.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

On what basis does Richard Gallagher feel confident to write as if Australian isn't one of the safest and most committed countries in the world re its handling of Covid-19?

That country's states closed their borders to each other to contain transmissions around April last year, the national borders were closed to everyone except returning citizens/residents, there were lockdowns that actually were lockdowns and as it stands the only infections being recorded are those coming from returnees, Australian like my own country being a multi-cultural one with people from all over the planet living there and moving around the world.

In fact Melbourne is locked down at the moment to prevent the virus brought by returnees from India from becoming a community transmission. As for their athletes, they will be vaccinated before the Games in their home country.

Richard then slams foreigners, specifically American, for not 'respecting' the manners and customs of Japan. And what exactly are those - the refusal of many Japanese to give up dining and drinking especially in small spaces?

The wearing of masks while crowding around each other, breathing in each others' air through paper masks that offer some protection but can't work against people squeezing into small elevators instead of waiting, rubbing shoulders with each other on trains even when they aren't packed - so many of them have to get into other's space - men in particular exposing their noses while wearing their masks in close proximity to people and some actually taking their masks off to sneeze?

The constant need to be out and about on the weekend, making the trains and dangerously cramped buses much busier than they should be because they won't give this up even during a pandemic? Crowding out the shopping areas as usual? I live in Tokyo and it's obvious to me that the ethnocentrism of the Japan and Tokyo Govt's approach that Japanese would beat the virus 'their way' is also deeply entrenched in the public here.

I hear Japanese people continually say 'The SOEs are going on too long so Japanese people are tired and don't listen'. This shows nothing but the excuse-making custom at work. How can Japanese people be tired of the SOEs when so many of them have done nothing to change the way they behave except wear a paper mask and sometimes sanitize their hands? Unbelievable and self-deluding.

0 ( +1 / -1 )


As I stated before, I will remain cautiously optimistic about this and hope they can pull it off. People who are working within the games and facilities all know the risk they are taking and are offered no guarantees, as well as the athletes, so everyone already knows what they are walking into and are accepting the potential risks.

Not exactly true. Fixed term job contracts for the games have been made already years ago, and nobody knew a pandemic would get into the way at that time. A year ago, when the contracts were slightly modified, there was a strong hope, that things would be back to normal now. The people working (i.e. getting paid to work at TOC), can't just suddenly pull out and resign - they'd need to arrange new jobs first. Everyone was counting on the vaccines, but the J-gov have royally blundered that, haven't they. In addition TOC&IOC should definitely offer better protection to its own staff. Now it's all just for tatemae; make everything look good to the outside world, and protect the athletes, never mind the domestic staff. Sickening.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

"People have had enough of the 'stay home' request

And didn't really follow it as they should. People have been awful here the last year and has completely changed my opinion about Japanese society.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The damage is already being done and will only become more acute as the Olympic Games take place. Critical resources are already being diverted from hospitals where they are needed. The time and attention of government leaders are already being split between the vaccination program and the Olympics. And money is being spent on extensive logistics to accommodate tens of thousands of athletes and their teams, including lodging, food, media, marketing, etc., where that money could be spent enhancing logistics to accelerate the vaccination rollout.

As the athletic teams arrive and games take place, the resource drain will become even worse, pushing hospitals to the brink of collapse and stressing Japan’s healthcare workers to breaking points. Scheduling the Olympics without a contingency plan in place to ensure a rapid COVID recovery remained the highest priority was a mistake in planning. And to allow the IOC to dictate the terms of Japan during a national emergency reveals a serious weakness in Japan’s ability to protect its own citizens in the face of gaiatsu.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If one human life could be saved by cancelling the Olympics, would it not be worth it? When life has no value, death will have a price. If the Olympics continue, we will be able to calculate that price.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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