People cross Shibuya crossing in Tokyo on June 29, 2020. Picture: CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP
People cross Shibuya crossing in Tokyo on June 29, 2020. Picture: CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

Tokyo — Just over half of Tokyo’s residents do not think the postponed 2020 Olympics should be held in 2021, backing either a further delay or outright cancellation because of fears over the coronavirus, according to a poll published on Monday.

The survey carried out by two Japanese news organisations is only a single data point, but comes after health experts warned that even a year’s delay may not be sufficient to hold the Games safely.

The poll conducted over the weekend found 51.7% of respondents hope the Games in 2021 are postponed again or cancelled, while 46.3% want to see the rescheduled Olympics go ahead.

Among those opposed to a 2021 Games, 27.7% said they want them cancelled altogether, while 24% would prefer a second postponement.

The telephone poll, conducted by Kyodo News and Tokyo MX television on June 26-28, received 1,030 replies. Of those who said they want to see the Games held in 2021, 31.1% said the event should be in a scaled-back form, including without spectators, while 15.2% said they wanted to see a full-blown Olympics.

Tokyo 2020 was postponed in March as the coronavirus spread across the globe, causing the worst disruption to the Olympics since two editions were cancelled during World War 2.

The Games are now scheduled to begin on July 23 2021, though they will still be known as the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Officials from Japan and the International Olympic Committee have warned it will not be possible to postpone again, and even the year-long delay has created financial and logistical headaches.

The poll, conducted ahead of the Tokyo gubernatorial election on July 5, also found incumbent Yuriko Koike leading her opponents “by a large margin”.

Her precise lead was not specified, in keeping with a media tradition of not publishing polling figures in the days before a vote. Koike has been heavily involved in preparations for the Games, travelling to Rio for the handover ceremony after the last summer Olympics.

Earlier in June she told AFP that the rescheduled Olympics will be safe despite the coronavirus pandemic, pledging a “120%  effort” to ensure the first postponed Games can go ahead.