TOKYO — Global interest in the Tokyo Olympics is muted, an Ipsos poll of 28 countries showed, amid concerns over COVID-19 in Japan and withdrawals of high-profile athletes, with the host country among the most disinterested.
The poll released on Tuesday found a global average of 46% interest in the Games, but excitement varied across markets, with less than 35% in Japan.
The pandemic-hit Olympics, due to start in nine days, have lost public support amid lingering concerns over infection risks and a state of emergency being declared in Tokyo, despite organizers promising strict coronavirus measures.
Spectators have been barred from attending all Olympic events in Tokyo and surrounding regions and Japanese officials are asking residents to watch the Games on TV to keep the movement of people to a minimum.
Only 22% of Japanese say the Games should go ahead, the Ipsos survey showed.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said a sufficient number of hospitals combined with a speed-up in the COVID-19 vaccination rollout among the elderly meant the city will be able to hold “safe and secure” Olympics.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, who has praised the organizers for staging the event, will meet Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Wednesday, Suga’s office said.
Many Olympic delegations are already in Japan ahead of the Games, some of them are training in local towns. Several athletes have tested positive upon their arrival.
Australia will be bringing its biggest Olympic team ever to Tokyo 2020, the head of Australia’s national told reporters on Wednesday.
Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman said he was very comfortable because almost all of his athletes were vaccinated.
But a number of global star players are skipping the Games.
Former world number one golfer Adam Scott said he questioned whether holding the Tokyo Olympics was a “responsible decision,” pointing to fear among people in Japan as the country battles a resurgence of coronavirus infections.
Scott said earlier that he would not play at Tokyo.
Switzerland’s Roger Federer became the latest big name in tennis to withdraw from the Tokyo Olympics after the 20-times Grand Slam champion said on Tuesday that he had picked up a knee injury during the grasscourt season.
The Games, postponed from last year because of the pandemic, run from July 23 to Aug. 8. Tokyo’s state of emergency, the capital’s fourth, lasts until Aug. 22, shortly before the Paralympics begin. — Reuters