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2021 Olympics: Should Japan Pass the Torch?

This article is published in collaboration with Statista

by Felix Richter

The Olympic flame has started its final leg to Tokyo as the traditional Olympic Torch Relay got underway in Fukushima today. Members of Japan’s women’s soccer team jogged off with the torch to begin the flame’s 121-day journey to Tokyo.

The postponed 2020 Tokyo Games, now scheduled to begin on July 23, are still a contentious topic in Japan, as many of the country’s citizens would prefer to see the megaevent cancelled in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is still far from resolved. Just last week, the local organizing committees announced that the Olympic and Paralympic Games would be held without overseas spectators, dealing a tough blow to the event that normally attracts millions of visitors from all over the world.

“Currently, the COVID-19 situation in Japan and many other countries around the world is still very challenging and a number of variant strains have emerged, whilst international travel remains severely restricted globally. Based on the present situation of the pandemic, it is highly unlikely that entry into Japan will be guaranteed this summer for people from overseas,” the organizers explained.

As the following chart shows, almost half the respondents in a recent poll conducted by the Mainichi Shimbun and the Social Survey Research Center called for the games to be canceled altogether or postponed once again. 21 percent spoke out for holding them without international spectators (as currently planned), while just 9 percent would have liked to see them held without any limitations.

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