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Japan: Anti-Olympics protest in Tokyo on day of planned Opening Ceremony

Tokyo, Japan: Several dozen protesters in masks gathered in front of Japan's National Stadium on Friday, July 24, the day the Olympic Games should have begun, to protest against holding them next year given the danger of the novel coronavirus.

The Games were postponed in March as COVID-19 swept the world and the government is determined that they go ahead next year. But there's growing opposition in Japan to holding the Games, even next year, over doubts that a big sporting event can be held safely.

A recent poll by Kyodo News found that fewer than a quarter of respondents were in favour of holding the Games as scheduled next year, a dramatic turnaround from the excitement during Tokyo's successful campaign to host the Olympics back in 2013. At the time, support among Tokyo residents for hosting the Games was as high as 70%, a crucial component in Tokyo's pitch to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The shift in public opinion comes as the Japanese capital sees a new surge in coronavirus cases after the government lifted a state of emergency.Tokyo reported a record 366 new infections on Thursday, July 23. Organisers of Friday's protest questioned whether Japanese companies, which raised a record $3.1 billion in sponsorship for the Games, should remain involved when they are under increasing pressure from an economic downturn caused by the virus.

The IOC has estimated the postponement will cost the committee $800 million. There has been no estimate for how much the postponement will cost Japan.

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