IN MARCH, WHEN the International Olympic Committee (IOC) realised that covid-19 would prevent Tokyo from hosting the 2020 games as scheduled on July 24th, most people in Japan supported the decision to postpone them by a year. The capital city had already spent much of the estimated ¥2.7trn ($25bn) required to organise the event, and a poll by Kyodo News, a wire service, showed that 79% of respondents thought it right to press on with it in July 2021. Another 11% favoured a two-year delay. Only 6% wanted to cancel the games altogether.
In just a few months, that optimism has crumbled. Kyodo’s latest poll, conducted on July 19th, finds that only 24% of the country now wants the games to happen next year. The share that would prefer them to be moved back to 2022 has grown to 36%, and the proportion who want to pull the plug has risen five-fold, to 34%. In a separate survey earlier this month by Japan News Network, which asked whether staging the games was feasible (rather than desirable), just 17% thought the show could go on in 2021.
Such gloom had already set in before Japan’s second wave of covid-19. By late June, when the country was still recording fewer infections per million people than South Korea, the share of Tokyo residents hoping for the games in 2021 had already fallen to less than half. Now that infections are spiking—both the capital and the whole country have recently set new records for daily positive tests—the idea that the Olympics should be jettisoned is likely to spread too.
Such an outcome would be financially disastrous for the IOC and the host city, given the vast sums already splurged. If their approach to the first postponement is any guide, both parties will claim that their new plan is viable even if the public gives up on it. On March 17th, when betting markets suggested that there was just a 15% chance of opening the games today, the IOC said it was “fully committed” to that schedule, before caving in a week later. Bookmakers are not yet offering odds on another volte-face. But Japan is clearly expecting one.
By The Economist https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2020/07/24/a-year-out-few-in-japan-think-the-olympics-can-be-held-next-year