A Japanese newspaper that sponsors the Tokyo Olympics has called for the games to be canceled.
The Asahi Shimbun is the first major Japanese newspaper to demand for the Tokyo Olympics to be canceled before they start in two months.
The liberal-leaning publication published an editorial on Wednesday titled “We Demand PM Suga Decide Cancellation.”
The editorial stated, “We cannot believe it is sensible to host the Olympics in the city this summer.”
“Distrust and anger against the irresponsible national government, the Tokyo administration, and Olympic stakeholders are only growing,” it warned. “We demand that Prime Minister Suga carefully assess the situation and decide whether or not the summer event should be cancelled.”
Asahi, like many other Japanese newspapers, is a game sponsor. It has a morning circulation of 5.16 million and an evening circulation of 1.55 million.
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Despite the editorial, there are no signs that the International Olympic Committee or local organizers intend to cancel the games. However, with only a small fraction of Japanese citizens vaccinated, opposition is growing.
Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the Tokyo organizing committee, said Wednesday that he was aware of the editorial but had no comment.
Asahi is one of roughly 70 local Olympic sponsors who have contributed over $3.5 billion to the budget of the organizing committee. It’s also one of a half-dozen newspapers that has stepped forward as a sponsor.
“Of course, different news organizations hold opposing viewpoints. And that’s very natural,” Muto said, adding local partners, or sponsors, continued to offer “support.”
Senior IOC member Richard Pound said in an interview with Japan’s JiJi Press last week that the final deadline to call off the Olympics was still a month away.
“Before the end of June, you really need to know, yes or no,” JiJi quoted Pound as saying.
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.
“Right now, more than 80 percent of the nation’s people want the Olympics postponed or canceled,” said Son, the founder and CEO of SoftBank Group Corp. who also owns the SoftBank Hawks baseball team.
“Who is forcing this to go ahead, and under what rights?” Son. This is a brief summary.