Source: AFP

Around a third of Japanese now back holding the Olympics, up from just 14 per cent last month, a new poll showed Monday, though a majority still prefer cancellation or postponement because of the pandemic.

The poll reinforces other recent surveys that suggest opposition to Tokyo 2020 is softening slightly, just over a month before the 23 July opening ceremony.

Support for holding the virus-postponed Games rose to 34 per cent, according to the poll by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper published on Monday.

However, 32 per cent still want the Games to be cancelled altogether and 30 per cent want the games to be delayed again, down from 43 per cent and 40 per cent in last month’s survey, respectively.

Organisers have ruled out postponing the Games again, and the first Olympic athletes have already arrived in Japan.

The Asahi survey was conducted on June 19 and 20, with 1,469 responses from people contacted on home and mobile phones.

It comes after several recent surveys that offered respondents the choice between cancelling the Games or holding it — with no postponement option — found that more back holding the event than scrapping it.

The shift in sentiment will be welcome news for organisers, who are expected to announce later Monday how many local fans, if any, will be in the stands for the Games.

After a coronavirus state of emergency ended in Tokyo on Sunday, new restrictions limit audiences at large events to 5,000 people or 50 per cent capacity, whichever is smallest.

That rule is scheduled to be in place until 11 July, after which the cap will expand to 10,000 people or 50 per cent capacity.

Local media reports suggest Olympic organisers will set a 10,000 spectator cap, but that the audience for the opening ceremony could swell to 20,000 including dignitaries and sponsors.

Japan has seen a comparatively small virus outbreak, with around 14,500 deaths despite avoiding harsh lockdowns.

But its vaccine rollout started slowly, only picking up pace in recent weeks. Around 6.5 per cent of the population is currently fully vaccinated.


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