Japan’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper on Wednesday called for the Tokyo Olympics to be canceled with the games set to open in less than two months, the AP reports. It is the first of Japan’s major newspapers to make the move and joins some regional newspapers that have recently added to the growing opposition to holding the Olympics. The British Medical Journal called last month for a hard look at going forward with the Olympics. Local medical officials have also been skeptical, and billionaire businessman Masayoshi Son suggested over the weekend that the IOC was forcing the Olympics on Japan. Coming out against the Olympics could be significant since the newspaper, like many in Japan, is a sponsor of the postponed Olympics that are to open on July 23. Asahi is typically liberal-leaning and often opposes the ruling party led by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. “We cannot think it’s rational to host the Olympics in the city this summer,” the newspaper said in its editorial under a headline that read: “We Demand PM Suga Decide Cancellation."
“Distrust and backlash against the reckless national government, Tokyo government and stakeholders in the Olympics are nothing but escalating,” the editorial added. "We demand Prime Minister Suga to calmly evaluate the circumstances and decide the cancellation of the summer event.” Asahi has a morning circulation reported at 5.16 million, and 1.55 million for its evening edition. It is second in circulation behind Yomiuri Shimbun, and subsequently is the second largest circulating newspaper in the world behind Yomiuri. Despite the editorial, there is no indication the International Olympic Committee or local organizers have any plans to pull the plug on the games. But opposition is mounting with only a tiny percentage of Japanese now vaccinated. Public opinion polls in Japan show between 60-80% want the Olympics canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and an online petition asking the games be canceled has gained 400,000 signatures in a few weeks.
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