An online petition to cancel the Summer Games in Tokyo received more than 200,000 signatures in two days, underscoring angst around plans to hold a global event in the middle of a pandemic.
The Change.org petition says the Olympics, set to begin in July, threaten to be a “super-spreader” event as Japan combats outbreaks in Tokyo and other places. Also, the country’s vaccination effort is off to a slow start. The petition also dings the government for spending lavishly on the games while the population struggles from the economic effects of the pandemic.
“With the circumstances that we are under, it is certainly unlikely that the Tokyo Olympics could be held safely,” the petition created by lawyer Kenji Utsunomiya says. “If the fundamental principle of the government is to protect the citizens’ lives and well-being, the government must declare the cancellation of the Olympic Games as soon as possible, and instead use the limited resources to protect the struggling lives affected by the pandemic.” Despite vocal pushback, Japanese officials and the International Olympic Committee say they are committed to holding the games after a year-long postponement.
They’ve banned foreign fans from events and will test athletes regularly during the games from July 23 to Aug. 8. Pfizer and BioNTech have donated doses of their vaccine for athletes who want to be immunized before heading to Japan.