Half of the Japanese public think the 2020 Olympics will take place this summer, a survey by the Yomiuri daily newspaper showed on Monday, despite most people opposing holding the Games during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Olympics have already been postponed by a year amid concerns over how organizers can keep volunteers, athletes, officials and the Japanese public safe when they begin on July 23 after a fourth wave of infections.
Opposition lawmakers grilled Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and cabinet ministers in the Diet on Monday over the decision to press ahead with the event after several polls showed the public was not in favor.
Top government officials repeatedly said that the government would continue to work on coronavirus measures for a "safe and secure" Games, and that a decision on domestic spectators would be made this month.
"Taking infection control measures for athletes and Games officials so athletes from the world can safely participate and to protect our people's lives and health, I think that is the premise of holding (the Olympics)," Suga told lawmakers.
In a Yomiuri survey conducted from June 4-6, 50% of respondents said the Games would happen this summer; 26% said they would take place without spectators. Some 48% said the event would be cancelled.
But most of the respondents in the same poll said virus measures for athletes and participants were inadequate, while public support for the Suga administration hit its lowest level, at 37%.
Foreign spectators are already prohibited from the Olympics and Japanese may also be kept away from what organizers promise will be a sanitized "bubble" event to minimize contagion risk.
Local authorities have scaled down Olympic torch relay events and host towns for Olympic athletes changed their minds.
Saitama Prefecture decided to cancel its plan to install two public viewing sites, Saitama Gov Motohiro Ono said on Monday. Ono said prevention of infection was more important than excitement.
Japanese Olympic Committee board member Kaori Yamaguchi, a judo bronze medalist at the 1988 Seoul Games, added to rancor around Japan when she said on Friday her nation had been "cornered" into pressing ahead with the Games and accused the JOC of riding roughshod over public opinion.
About 3,500 out of over 40,000 "city volunteers" recruited by regional governments for the Olympics have pulled out, NHK reported. That adds to 10,000 volunteers who had already withdrawn, according to the organizers.© Thomson Reuters 2021.