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58% Japanese do not want the Olympics to be held this year

An overwhelming majority of Japanese are 'interested in the Olympics' but don't want them to happen this year due to concerns over the pandemic

Japan's Olympic and Paralympic Games Minister Tamayo Marukawa attends a news conference, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tokyo, Japan February 18, 2021. REUTERS/Issei Kato (REUTERS)

TOKYO (Reuters) - An overwhelming majority of Japanese said they were "interested in the Olympics", although 58% said they did not want them to be held this year because of fears over covid-19, a Yomiuri daily poll showed on Wednesday.

In the survey, conducted between 18 January and 25 February, when much of the country remained in a coronavirus state of emergency, 30% of the respondents said they were "very interested" in the Summer Games and 40% said they were "somewhat interested", for a combined 70%.

But concerns over the impact on coronavirus infections kept most of the respondents opposed to holding the event this year, although the 58% in opposition is about 20 percentage points lower than earlier opinion polls.

If the Olympic Games were to go ahead as scheduled, 91% of respondents said spectators should be kept to a minimum or not allowed at all, the Yomiuri poll showed.

The Tokyo Olympic Games were postponed last year because of the pandemic and rescheduled to take place this year from 23 July.

A survey by global consultancy Kekst CNC published on Wednesday showed similar rates of majority opposition in Japan, at 56%, as well as in Britain and Germany, at 55% and 52% respectively.

In France and Sweden, more people opposed than approved, while in the United States, respondents were split at one-third between those who agreed and disagreed that the Games should go ahead, according to the survey.

While coronavirus infection numbers are low in Japan compared with the United States and many European countries, the greater Tokyo metropolitan area remains in a state of emergency, with restrictions in place for spectator numbers for big sporting and cultural events, as well as closing times for bars and restaurants. The country also remains closed to non-resident foreigners.

An earlier Reuters poll published last month showed nearly two-thirds of Japanese companies also oppose holding the Olympic Games as planned, swinging from the previous survey showing most in favour.

Japan has so far confirmed 431,250 coronavirus cases and 7,931 deaths as of Monday.

(Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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