By Tetsushi Kajimoto
TOKYO (Reuters) – Nearly 70% of Japanese companies want the Tokyo Olympics canceled or postponed, according to a Reuters poll, underscoring concerns that the event will increase coronavirus infections at a time when that the local medical system is under great pressure.
With just nine weeks left until the Games, states of emergency have been imposed across much of Japan through the end of the month to counter a surge in infections that has resulted in a shortage of medical staff and hospital beds in some areas.
The country’s vaccination program has also been particularly slow, with just 4% of the population inoculated, the lowest rate among the Group of Seven nations.
The survey, conducted from May 6 to 17, showed that 37% of companies were in favor of cancellation, while 32% wanted a postponement.
In particular, those asking for a cancellation have risen since February, when the same questions were asked in the monthly survey. Then 29% were interested in a cancellation, while 36% were in favor of a delay.
“There is no way the Olympics will go ahead under the current circumstances,” a manager of a metals company wrote in the survey. “Nothing the government does seems to be well planned. All it seems to be doing is spreading anxiety.”
The survey results are roughly in line with public opinion polls.
The government and the International Olympic Committee have repeatedly said that the Games will go ahead. About 70% of the 10,500 athletes who must attend have already qualified for the event.
If the Games, which have already been postponed for a year, are canceled, a quarter of companies expect big economic losses. But almost 60% said that these would be limited.
The survey, conducted for Reuters by Nikkei Research, examined about 480 large and medium-sized non-financial companies, of which about 230 answered questions about the Olympics. Respondents participated on condition of anonymity.
(Report by Tetsushi Kajimoto. Edited in Spanish by Rodrigo Charme)