Protesters in Tokyo urge authorities to cancel Olympic Games

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By Daniel Bellamy  with AP
Protesters in Tokyo urge authorities to cancel Olympic Games
Copyright  AFP

Protesters took to the streets in Tokyo on Saturday calling for this summer's Olympic Games to be cancelled due to ongoing concerns about COVID-19.

With weeks to go until the opening ceremony on July 23, polls have indicated most Japanese citizens don't want the games to be held against the backdrop of a global pandemic.

A state of emergency in Tokyo and other parts of Japan was only lifted on Thursday, and so far only six per cent of the population is fully vaccinated.

The authorities have already scaled the games back considerably and on Saturday, another restriction was announced. Tokyo's governor Yuriko Koike said all live public viewing events would be cancelled after a spike in infections in the capital.

"These are necessary measures to make the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics a success,'' she told reporters after meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

Six planned 'fan zones' had been set to be equipped with massive video screens for spectators. But instead, Koike said, some of them will now become vaccination centres.

On Friday the Japanese government's top medical adviser on COVID-19 said it was "desirable" to hold the Olympics without in-person spectators to reduce the risk of infection.

Fans were barred from visiting from abroad several months ago, and organisers are expected to announce on Monday whether or not any locals will be allowed to attend.