Gulf Today

Osaka ‘not sure’ Olympics should happen as doubts grow


TOKYO: Japanesesu­perstarnao­miosakahas­admitted she is “not really sure” the coronaviru­s-hit Tokyo Olympics should go ahead, as doubts grow about the Games just weeks before the opening ceremony.

The four-time tennis Grand Slam winner joined fellowjapa­neseplayer­keinishiko­riinraisin­gconcerns as Tokyo and other parts of Japan remain under a virus state of emergency.

A top politician also warned that Japan still had to make a ‘careful decision’ about whether to hold the Games, which have scant public support, according to opinion polls.

Scrapping the 2020 Olympics, postponed last year as the pandemic advanced, is an idea that has never quite gone away, despite repeated assertions from officials that they will proceed.

A survey by a leading Japanese daily released on Monday found 59 per cent of respondent­s want the Olympics cancelled, underlinin­g persistent public concerns over the risk of infections.

Osaka, Japan’s biggest sports star and a major gold-medal prospect, said “to be honest, I’m not really sure”, when asked if the Olympics should take place as planned.

“I’m an athlete, and of course my immediate thought is that I want to play in the Olympics,” the four-time Grand Slam winner told the BBC.

“But as a human, I would say we’re in a pandemic, and if people aren’t healthy, and if they’re not feeling safe, then it’s definitely a really big cause for concern.”

Nishikori said there “definitely should be a discussion” on whether Tokyo should plough ahead.

“I don’t know how much they are thinking about how they are gonna make (a) bubble, because this is not like 100 people,” he said.

“It’s 10,000 people in the village and playing tournament­s. So I don’t think it’s easy, especially (with) what’s happening right now in Japan.”

‘SO MUCH TO THINK ABOUT’: America’s Serena Williams, who has 23 Grand Slam titles -- one off the all-time record -- as well as four Olympic golds, said she was yet to commit to Tokyo.

“Ihaven’tspent24ho­urswithout­her(three-year-old daughter Olympia) so that kind of answers the question itself,” she said at the WTA tournament in Rome.

“I haven’t really thought much about Tokyo, because it was supposed to be last year and now it’s this year, and then there is this pandemic and there is so much to think about.”

Athletes until now have largely stayed quiet about the Olympics, in contrast to last year when there was a welter of complaints before the historic postponeme­nt in March.

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